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The Power of Collective Meaning in shaping Behaviors for Organisational Culture

In an organisational culture (OC), there are similar concepts among diverse terms and definitions. OC refers to a company’s shared values, beliefs, practices, and behaviours. It encompasses what is important, what works, what is expected, and how things are done for managers and employees. And “let’s remember the unspoken rule that everyone must wear a smile on their face at all times” 😊.

During my initial conversations with companies, it now emerges that the single cultural elements are pretty straightforward and understood; however, what is missed is the homogeneous view of the OC elements and actions related to change/shift/transform organisational culture.

And I like to express this homogeneity before speaking about a process, approaches, and roadmap to act on OC to align the elements related to dynamic capabilities and competitive advantages which are the final results for becoming resilient and thriving in the market.

I found it compelling to speak about collective meaning, a slightly different view, as further guidance about how our companies’ cultures should be and make sense of strategies and actions; collective meaning is not another buzzword but a regrouping concept according to many writers and authors.

I also use “shared understanding”: how a group interacts and functions together, including the rules, values, beliefs, and assumptions that guide behaviours and practices within an organisation, and collective meaning can thus be considered a sub-group of OC.

Basically, Collective meaning is how employees relate to each other with their work and interact with the external environment. It can be said that sharing cultural elements among people helps to create (accepted) behaviours in a company’s operational and strategic dynamics.

How can a company support collective meaning or shared understanding?

We can consider Purpose, Knowledge, and Cross-functional teams as a general approach.

It is handy to visualise where the efforts (actions) on culture are and how to relate them to the collective meaning.

There are dynamic approaches like Collective and Collaborative training and learning, using mock cases or simulations.

Sharing a learning culture after theoretical training and including the expertise to be used through employees’ collaboration is a compelling way to increase the shared understanding while using a mock case study to then move to a selected real-life issue/opportunity.

Note: Constructive conflict is a recognised approach to managing teams. The ability to identify, appreciate, deal with, and handle potential conflicts relies on understanding people’s perspectives. It also relies on communicating effectively and finding an acceptable solution for all parties. This mixture of learning by experience is invaluable in cross-functional activities from RPA to organisational and strategic flexibility to digital transformation.

The points in the infographic are not exhaustive because the business type, size, and culture as-is situation can further create new groups or sub-groups of shared understanding.

Now, please, ask yourself: am I available to use any technique and tools to create a shared understanding to facilitate shared behaviours?


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