In Beyond Performance, the product of a research effort by McKinsey & Company, Scott Keller and Colin Price hold the view that an organization’s health is as crucial an element as its performance. Management guru Gary Hamel referred to this as ‘a new manifesto for thinking about organizations,’ in the foreword to the book. Organizational health is the sum of a multitude of factors, but company culture is perhaps the most important of it all—strong values, robust management practices, accountability, transparency, equal opportunities, and so on. Morgen Witzel drives home this view, underlining the inextricable link between culture and health.
Organizational culture is one of those fascinating subjects that everyone talks about but no one really understands. Some people actively dislike the entire subject of culture and try to downplay its importance, usually on the spurious grounds that it is very difficult–if not impossible–to measure cultural variables in any meaningful way. There are comparative measures of national culture, like the Hofstede and Project GLOBE scales, but nothing similar has been developed for organizational cultures; at least, not that offers any meaningful explanatory value.
The culture of every organization is unique and different, even if the differences are sometimes subtle and hard to detect, and this is one of the reasons why comparative study and generalization are difficult to do. There have been attempts to develop classes or categories