Controlling “dark matter”, you can do it!

“Dark matter”. It has not yet been directly observed. It is thought to be a fundamental part of the universe. It is elusive in its nature, and therefore extremely difficult to detect. But it is believed to constitute 84.5% of total mass in the universe.

The above was written about what astrophysicists call ‘dark matter’. But it could be written about another widespread phenomenon as well.

That is, about organizational culture.

This is one of these terms that is getting more and more traction as times goes. Why? Because we are becoming more and more aware of what is happening around us and how important it is. However, is not easy to define what organizational culture is.

Here is one of such attempts from people at Harvard.

Dr Edgar H Schein, one of the most prolific authors and researchers in the field of organizational culture, wrote that:

“Culture is an abstraction, yet the forces that are created in social and organizational situations deriving from culture are powerful. If we don’t understand the operation of these forces, we become victims to them. Cultural forces are powerful because they operate outside of our awareness. They help to explain many of our puzzling and frustrating experiences in social and organizational life and enable us to understand ourselves better.”[1]

Okay, but what are the things that characterizes organizational culture, what it does and what it influences? There are a few things:

What your understanding about your company, business, work, people, etc. is.

The way you interact and behave in your organization.

What is considered good and acceptable.

What are your formal values, what do you strive for.

What is permissible, what are the rules of the game.

What kind of climate and relationships you have.

How you think, tackle challenges, communicate.

What procedures, rituals and celebration you have.

And so on. This is a long and impressive list of influences.

Besides, there are more aspects to consider as Charles H Kraft describes in his fine book “Anthropology for Christian Witness”:

“Culture is complex, it tends to be integrated around its worldview, it provides design for living, it serves as mechanism for coping, it is often perceived as prefect and absolute, it makes sense to those within and may appear awkward to those outside, it is a legacy from past, and so on.”[2]

This organizational ‘dark matter’ really makes up a lot of what happens in any organization, and it influences our daily lives much more that we realize.

We have basically two options. We can remain unaware and be tossed around by the invisible forces of culture around us, or we can master them, mould them, reshape them and make them to serve our purposes.

Wisdom enables us to do the later, not only to see the invisible, the ‘dark matter’ of the organizational culture, but also to become its masters, able and equipped to create your own culture and to make it serve your goals as you strive for the good and the beautiful.

This is what we are up to with the project Wiseberg.

[1] Schein Edgar D, Organizational Culture and Leadership, Jossey-Bass, 2010, p.7.

[2] Kraft, Charles H, Anthropology for Christian Witness, Orbis Books, New York, 1996, p. 44-49.

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