The Three Cultures

By Art Kleiner via strategy+business   Article

The Cult of Three Cultures

“there are at least three separate professions creating their own cultures … the “operational,” “executive,” and “engineering” cultures. … Members of each culture consistently misunderstand each other, even when they earnestly desire to work together. …

The first, the operational culture, is the culture of day-to-day line managers — the people who get products and services out, procure supplies, process bills, and make delivery trucks run on time. Operations people appreciate teams; they understand, as nobody else does, how to get a bunch of disparate individuals to pull together. … Leaders in this culture are often connoisseurs of human “character.” They expect good people to be loyal, candid, and trustworthy, and they do their best to shut out those who do not fit in. …

If you want to find facility with deals, leverage, and capital flow, you have to look to the second corporate culture, the executive culture. Members of this culture typically include the CEO, the board, the business-unit leaders, and the finance-oriented staff. … They are the only ones directly accountable for the organization’s obligation to return money and value to outsiders, both to shareholders and to society at large. … they tend to see themselves as lone heroes, embattled and competitive. …

The third corporate culture, the engineering culture, is personified by engineers and technical specialists, particularly in information technology and process engineering. They are stimulated by puzzles and problems, and by the design challenge of creating an ideal world of elegant machines that operate in harmony. The only thing they’re impatient with is the other people. This culture … is preoccupied with “designing humans out of the systems rather than into them.””


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