Life in Organizations LO9778

Benjamin Compton (
Thu, 05 Sep 1996 21:26:07 -0700

Replying to LO9755 --

Rol Fessenden wrote:

> On a closely related note, I have been promoting a distinction between
> 'system' and 'culture' which my dictionary describe respectively as the
> organized way to accomplish a task, and the beliefs, perceptions, mental
> models, and so forth of an organization. In short-hand we can very
> accurately refer to these as 'task' and 'tool set'.
> System Culture
> an organized, repeatable way to Beliefs, perceptions, mental models, etc
> accomplish a task of an organization
> Task Tool set
> You may believe that these are inextricably intertwined, and I cannot say
> they are not. However, I submit as a meme the notion that separating them
> in our minds creates a valuable distinction that allows us to focus our
> efforts for the greatest impact. Therefore, when you say "The 'system'
> part [that whole unwritten mix of mental models/ language/ 'rules' etc]
> then tends to blindly seek its own replication,..." you are, in my
> terminology, referring not to the system, but to the culture. To me the
> distinction is important because changing the culture requires different
> methods and different tools than changing the system (system in my
> narrower sense). What do you think?

I can see the possible benefits of making the distinction Rol has
suggested. However, Rol, I think I would benefit if you could define the
type of relationship he sees between culture and the system?

Both, in my mind, are artifacts of theory and language (thanks to Mike
McMaster for introducing me to the relationship between theory, language,
and history). If this is the case, as I believe, to change either the
system or the culture requires a change in theory, which, implies a change
in the language.

Therefore, the real meme at work here is the theory in operation and the
language used to define that theory.

Ben Compton


Benjamin Compton <>

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