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Corporate Culture And The Indian Software Industry

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CORPORATE CULTURE AND THE INDIAN SOFTWARE INDUSTRY

Introduction

This article tries to explain the concept of corporate culture in general, its effects on the performance of employees in an organization. It then dwells on the specifics of the Indian software industry and then goes on to find out how organizational culture affects the performance of the software industry giving examples of specific software companies.

Understanding and assessing your organization's culture can mean the difference between success and failure in today's fast changing business environment. On the other hand, senior management, particularly the CEO, often has a view of the organization's culture that is based more on hope than a view grounded in objective fact. This paper will explore some of the problems associated with understanding the reality of an organization's culture. It will also focus on the role of the leader in creating or maintaining this culture. Finally, it will discuss the perils of confronting the leader with an assessment of the organization that flies in the face of his/her preconceptions. Imagine you were asked to describe your organization to an outsider. How would you answer the following questions? * What 10 words would you use to describe your company? * Around here what's is really important? * Around here who gets promoted? * Around here what behaviors get rewarded? * Around here who fits in and who doesn't?In reality, what management pays attention to and rewards is often the strongest indicator of the organization's culture. This is often quite different than the values it verbalizes or the ideals it strives for. Think for a minute about the organization in which you work. Does your management encourage or discourage innovation and risk taking? Does it reward employees for coming up with new ideas and challenging old ways of doing things or punish those who challenge established norms and practices? Do mavericks fit in or do they get pushed out? Is rapid change the norm in your organization or does management vigorously protect the status quo? Does the organization truly value excellence or is the mentality simply "just ship it"? Does management pay attention to the wellbeing of its employees or is it completely focused on task performance and profits? Does a high level of employee participation characterize the culture or does senior management make most decisions? As you can probably see from your own responses, this kind of inquiry can give insight into the real culture of your organization and some of its underlying values and norms. It may not even resemble the culture management thinks it has created. What Is Culture? Your organization's culture is not the espoused list of values developed at an offsite by the executive team and framed on the wall in your lobby. These are ideals. What you strive to be as an organization and what values you hope to endorse, may be different from the values, beliefs, and norms expressed in your actual practices and behavior. Don't fool yourself. It is critical that you find out who you really are as well as striving for who you want to be. Awakening the emperor to the fact that he/she has no clothes is often a risky and delicate first step in closing the gap between the real and the ideal. Cultural assessment can provide measurable data about the real organizational values and norms that can be used to get management's attention. It can dispel some of management's illusions about what really matters in the organization and will tell them how far off the mark things really are. Management may find that it is not practicing what it preaches. However, telling the CEO the truth about the organization he/she has built, can often be dangerous to your career progress. Delivering such a message takes skill as a coach and a willingness to take risks and confront conflict. Basic Assumptions, Values And Norms Drive Practices And Behaviors The culture of an organization operates at both a conscious and unconscious level. Often the people who see your culture more clearly are those from the outside--the new hires, the consultants or vendors. When coaching or advising senior management, remember that culture comprises the deeply rooted but often unconscious beliefs, values and norms shared by the members of the organization. Those not living inside the culture can often see it more objectively. Better to ask a New Yorker to tell you what Californians are like than ask a Californian. Culture drives the organization and its actions. It is somewhat like "the operating system" of the organization. It guides how employees think, act and feel. It is dynamic and fluid, and it is never static. A culture may be effective at one time, under a given set of circumstances and ineffective at another time. There is no generically good culture. There are however, generic patterns of health and pathology. Culture Operates At Various Levels - The Visible Artifacts To The Deeply Rooted And Unconscious Culture can be viewed at several levels. Some aspects of culture are visible and tangible and others are intangible and unconscious. Basic assumptions that guide the organization are deeply rooted and often taken for granted. Avoidance of conflict is a value that is an excellent example of an unconscious norm that may have a major influence on the organization but is frequently unconscious. For an insider, this is difficult or impossible to see, particularly if the individual has "grown up" in the organizational culture. Recently hired employees, the external consultant and the executive coach is frequently in the best position to identify these unconscious assumptions or values. Espoused or secondary values are at a more conscious level; these are the values that people in the organization discuss, promote and try to live by. All employees of Hewlett Packard, for example, are required to become familiar with the values embodied in the "HP Way." Some of the most visible expressions of the culture are called artifacts. These include the architecture and decor, the clothing people wear, the organizational processes and structures, and the rituals, symbols and celebrations. Other concrete manifestation of culture are found in commonly used language and jargon, logos, brochures, company slogans, as well as status symbols such as cars, window offices, titles, and of course value statements and priorities. An outsider can often spot these artifacts easily upon entering an organization. For insiders, however, these artifacts have often become part of the background. The Role of the Leader in Transmitting Culture One of the critical factors in understanding a corporate culture is the degree to which it is leader-centric. Ask yourself, how central is our leader to the

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