Home Concepts Organizational Theory The Geometry of Character and Culture

The Geometry of Character and Culture

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Similarly, there are cultural patterns in organizations and societies that are displayed in small rituals and in very big rituals. These patterns are evident in the daily habits of those who reside in the culture – and in the clothing, greeting patterns and humor that is on constant (or frequent) display in the organization or society. These patterns are also evident in the less frequent events operating in the organization or society—retirement parties and funerals, holidays and vacation plans. In other words, character and culture are not about how big something is; they are instead about how often and where character and culture are evident. And this is where masterful coaching and can come to the foreground. This is where Watson’s dimensions of process and attitude play a critical role.

It seems that in topology one can stretch, bend or squish a shape, yet it still retains its equivalency. Similarly, we can stretch, bend or squish character or culture and it still is recognizable. This represents the key role played by adaptability of character and culture. Rigid character and culture soon are outdated and eventually lead to death. A pragmatic balance between continuity of character and culture, on the one hand, and flexibility of character and culture, on the other hand, is critical. And here once again masterful coaching can come to the foreground.

A limitation is imposed when we consider the nature of topologies. While we can stretch, bend and squish, we are not allowed to cut or paste shapes (according to the rules of topology). This is an important limitation. In system terms, we would say that we can engage in 1st Order change (stretch, bend, squish) when working with character or culture, but should not engage in 2nd Order change (cutting or pasting) regarding character or culture. Returning to the insights offered by Goodwin Watson, character and culture are found not in the dimensions of structure and process, but in the dimension of attitudes.

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