How Strong is Your Skeleton?

Ultimate Culture Conference Speakers

It’s not time for Halloween, yet!
Dr. Ed Schein opened the Ultimate Culture Conference (which was held yesterday here in Chicago) with a new analogy to culture. He shared that he’d visited the Chicago Field Museum and was struck with the importance of the skeleton in the growth and development of various species. He made the point that a skeleton stabilizes an organism just like culture stabilizes an organization.
It’s a very interesting analogy when you extend it beyond just the stabilization and growth. Organizations, like spines, can get out of alignment and require adjustments. One of the biggest points Dr Schein was making about the skeleton is that too many times leaders talk about culture change and it’s more like plastic surgery than orthopedic surgery. Real culture change happens at a deep level not on the surface.
Some other memorable quotes from Dr Schein:

“Not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that can be measured matters, especially when human behaviors and experiences are concerned.”

“Culture, for organizations, is like personality and character for an individual. Culture is the learned way of coping with the survival and growth of the organization and the learned way of managing internal relationships. Culture stabilizes, makes life predictable and provides meaning (why we do what we do).”

“We want employees to be engaged – BUT – can you impose engagement if the work is no longer interesting?”

“Culture is not what you are changing, it’s the strength you are building on. Culture is the source of your success meaning and stability.”

“The culture that’s hardest to understand is the one in your head!”

Dr. Schein was brilliant, articulate and inspiring as the keynote presenter for the Culture Conference.   At 87 years of age, he is a living legend that we were privileged to spend the day with.

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