An inside look at gC’s culture of Learning

Each quarter at gothamCulture we get together virtually and have a discussion about the “Book of the Quarter.” We find this to be a productive culture building practice that supports our desire to be a learning organization—an organization that is continually reflecting, sharing ideas and learning from best practices. 

Why do we do this?

  1. This ritual encourages us to discuss some of the more foundational works in the field as well as learn about new concepts in the organizational development world. We discuss how the concepts apply not only to our work with clients but also to our work within our own organization.
  2. Regularly engaging with new ideas in a structured way also supports our own professional development as individual practitioners. The fact that this time is put aside during a normal workday reinforces the organizational value that professional development is important.
  3. Our book discussions are a great opportunity to build relationships with colleaguesin a lower stress environment and learn from each other. This overall contributes to the sense of team within gC.

This quarter we read (and some of us re-read) Ed Schein’s classic Organizational Culture and Leadership. Despite its 450plus pages, it’s a quick read and organized in an accessible way if you want to focus in on a specific area of culture or leadership. It’s full of Schein’s tales from his real life experience with clients. His observations about these organizations invite readers to immediately make parallels with their own organization; His description of specific components of organizational culture is especially helpful when analyzing your own organizational culture.

I asked some of my colleagues to share their favorite key learnings from the book and here’s what they had to say:

  • “Culture is ultimately created, embedded, evolved, and ultimately manipulated by leaders.” – Chris Cancialosi, Managing Partner and Founder
  • I like what Schein says on defining strategies as opposed to goals: strategy concerns the evolution of an organization’s mission, whereas goals reflect the short-term tactical issues in order to ensure survival. –Dustin Schneider, Associate
  • “Organizations hold implicit assumptions about the role of space utilization in getting work accomplished. Where things are located, how they are built, the kind of architecture involved, the decorations encouraged, etc…reflect the deeper values and assumptions held in the larger culture and by the key leaders. …organizations attempt to symbolize important values and assumptions through the design. “ –Katie Papazian, Associate

If you’ve read this OD classic, let us know your biggest takeaway from this book by posting in the comments section!

Next quarter we plan to read The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki so stay tuned.

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Samantha Goldman