Monday, August 21, 2017

Five steps toward planning today for tomorrow’s needs

Feinman, Valerie Jackson. “Five Steps Toward Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Needs,” Computers in Libraries, Jan 99, Vol. 19, Issue 1, pp. 18-21.
Five steps toward planning today for tomorrow’s needs
Strategic planning in libraries today must always, because of the rapid advances in technologies, define the business of the organization in which the library is situated. Most libraries are in the business of education—educating the public, the employees, or the faculty and the students. In public libraries this means satisfying the community’s need for entertainment and access to research needs; in a corporate library it means supporting industry and computer analysis; and in a college or university library it means supporting both the education of the students and the teaching and research needs of the faculty.
Strategic planning for technologies in a college or university must be a cooperative effort with input from the administration, the computing center personnel, and the faculty, taking into account the mission statement of the academy, the financial restrictions of the budget, and the mandated programs utilizing these technologies. Faculty input is essential and critical, both in terms of how faculty actually uses technology and how faculty may be encouraged to redevelop syllabi that reflect that use. Faculty leadership is critical to the collection, development, and management of that input. 
The role of the librarian is increasingly important during strategic planning, as educator and leader within the process, whether that process occurs within the library or in the larger institution, as these are intimately connected. What happens in the academic library is a microcosm of what is happening in libraries nationally. 
The strategic plan developed should offer a pattern that integrates major goals, policies, and action sequences of the organization into a cohesive whole. It should help allocate resources, capitalize on relative strengths, mitigate against weaknesses, exploit projected shifts in the environment, and counter possible actions of competitors. Thus a well-articulated strategic plan should set a clear direction, allow for the strengths and weaknesses within the competitive environment, devote resources to projects that utilize the set of core competencies and primary skills within the organization, identify areas within the social and political environment that require careful monitoring, and recognize the competitive areas that need careful attention. 
Why should we plan?
One problem in strategic planning is actually envisioning what is “needed”. At a recent meeting here at Adelphi University, where I am coordinator of library instruction and chair of the faculty senate, when committee members were asked to list what was needed, they replied: “pull more wires, purchase more computers,” and “we need upgrades.” These are facile and unimaginative answers. When the technologies we probably need do not yet exist, we have trouble knowing what we really want or need.

What I really need is instant delivery of full-text data across a wide time-span whenever I complete a search, and the ability to download the relevant papers, complete with diagrams and graphs. I should be able to download a full book into my electronic reading machine and use it at will. We don’t quite have the technologies for this yet, and the older texts of journals and books haven’t been digitized. But I do know what I need to ease and enhance my research. We have to ask the question: “What do you need?” and build on that before we start planning, lest we spin our wheels endlessly talking about what is now possible rather than what is needed. Our strategic plans must allow for future developments and for our wish lists, and must not be a mere enhancement of what we now have.

So, how do we plan for this future when the technologies do not yet support it, when the publishing industry is producing money-making rather than educationally needed products? How shall librarians plan for future librarians when we haven’t yet begun to organize the Web, and when we squabble about what our profession might become rather than taking the lead in fashioning it?
The five-step strategic planning process
Developing a strategic plan may be necessary for many reasons. Perhaps it has been years since the last plan was formulated, and a new one is needed. Or, growth within a public library’s community may indicate the need for a branch library or for a building extension. The company may be expanding or downsizing, requiring a new adaptive plan. The academy must be re-accredited every decade, and must have a dynamic plan demonstrating its mission and the goals to be reached. In all of these cases, planning is necessary and tends to follow a usual path:
1. Situational and environmental analysis
2. Development of organizational direction

3. Formulation of strategic plan

4. Implementation of the plan

5. Strategic control, feedback, evaluation
In this article, I’ll look at each of these steps in more detail and offer some insight gained from what has happened at my own institution. 
1. Situational and environmental analysis
Once a project is well begun, it is half done. So this initial analysis is absolutely critical to the eventual writing of the planning document. Many people from various elements must participate in the following tasks: Look at the environment in which the library and academy are operating; evaluate the competition and its offerings; seek full knowledge of the needs of the constituency; investigate mandates from the community, accrediting agency, or government; discover market niches that are unmet; and seek opportunities consistent with external realities.
Questions that are useful include: Where is this library/institution today in terms of existing technologies to support its work? Where do the faculty/students/ community need to support their teaching/study/research? How might a curriculum be altered in terms of existing resources, what competitive academies offer, and what students need to learn? What value-added education (in terms of technologies) do we want to address this issue? Who is our competition, and why, and do we want to continue competing at that level? 
At this point many of us might say, “Whoa! This is too complex!” But it isn’t. As librarians we do much of the thinking required automatically as we improve the services we offer: arguing for new methods, reading our literature, evaluating what we do, and making those changes as needed. When I called to serve on the committee developing the library’s strategic plan for technologies, I realized that as an instruction librarian I was, every semester, teaching students in a management course how to do situational analysis for an industry. I applied the precepts of what I was teaching to my own study for the library. 
Your analysis should also examine the core values of your institution. You must reflect on the traditional values in a dynamic and complex environment; assess current programs; adapt to the emerging trends with the appropriate plans consistent with your vision, your mission, and your strengths as an institution—or, decide not to adapt. And you must develop the tools to provide our graduating students with an education well-informed by technologies. 
Librarians bring many useful qualities to this analysis. We work with people at all levels, adapting to their modes of learning. We develop the ability to see the overall picture more clearly than do subject-oriented teaching faculty or bottom-line-oriented administrators. Our contributions as team members are highly undervalued. 
At Adelphi, one forum for analysis is our Faculty Senate, which meets biweekly to discuss academic and curricular affairs and approve curricular initiatives forwarded by its committees. When an issue is raised by a professor or dean, their discussion can illuminate analysis or enhance vision or facilitate implementation. As senate chair, I should know where data can be found and who the knowledgeable players are. 
One of the senate subcommittees decided to query users of academic computing, via e-mail, and ask what problems were arising. Questions poured in from users, and were answered after much discussion. There were some easy answers, and some hard ones, but we found answers and made changes. Then we posted the answers on e-mail, along with committee minutes. This is an ongoing project. 
2. Development of organizational direction
There are generally three main indicators of direction—values, mission, and objectives. Vision includes aspirations, core values, and philosophies at very general levels. Our mission statements translate these into more doable statements of institutional purpose. Objectives are those items—call them targets perhaps—that allow us to succeed in our mission. Our direction may be established, informed, reaffirmed, or modified through environmental/situational analysis.

Decisions about organizational direction are made after full consultation with administrative leadership, and are informed by discussions at all levels. A major problem may occur when the vision of our leadership is at odds with that of our traditional values and bases. Here at Adelphi, we had an earlier leadership that wanted us to become an elitist college, while our student base had always been people training in professional schools. Delicate negotiations at several levels, fully informed by situational analysis, led to a “new” direction in which an improved general undergraduate education will lead seamlessly into our professional schools, or into the workforce. Adelphi is situated on Long Island, where there are 32 degree-granting institutions within 40 miles. Competition for students is fierce. 
In my experience, once the vision is discussed, and the mission statement formulated, the objectives become clearer. 
3. Formulation of strategic plan
Once the analysis is completed and the direction is established, you can proceed with the actual formulation of the plan. Planning can be done at various levels, but in universities it is usually driven by accrediting agencies that demand dynamic planning as the cost of re-accreditation. Teams, usually dominated by faculty, gather data, analyze it, and report out on the knowledge gleaned. The in-house accreditation leaders sift through all this, and develop a coherent planning document. When planning is needed between site visits, then it’s done in a similar fashion, but not driven by the agency’s requirements. 
Formulation is difficult and doesn’t always take place as planned. In fact, this is often the case. We had appointed two Task Forces to study the environmental issues affecting growth in two of our graduate schools. One team developed a definitive plan that stated strengths and weaknesses, and laid out an exact plan for putting the school on track for today’s market needs. The second team developed an reasonable philosophy for improving the school, but provided no implementable planning document. 
A solid plan should include the following information:
  • Statement of mission for the whole, or for the unit within the whole, and relating to the overall mission
  • How the unit will respond to and flesh out that mission statement
  • What resources are needed, and a timeline for these: faculty, staff, resources, technologies
  • Where those resources will be found, how they fit into the existing and future budgetary considerations, and which grants should be sought
  • What governance issues are involved
  • A full timeline for implementation of changes
  • Allowance for feedback, evaluation, and adjustment procedures (see also step 5 below)
4. Implementation of the plan
An implementation plan must be well formulated and flexible, allowing procedures for many kinds of unplanned but needed changes. With this in mind, we then develop an implementation schedule that states the order of implementation and what steps should be taken at what time. It must also allow for changes when necessary, and outline the resource budget. Steps might include: change the focus and curriculum of school/department X to meet market needs; develop curriculum for Y course; hire Z faculty to teach Y course when developed; increase library resources to provide materials and staff to support X; convert library databases to Web-based when proxy server is installed in December 1998, etc.
In the fall of 1998, our Faculty Senate approved a 5-year calendar, with the following built-in provision: “This calendar shall be in force, unless a future Senate decides to make a change before October 15 of the preceding year.” It is difficult to determine implementation exactly in an environment where technological changes are frequent, rapid, and comprehensive. Even calendar plans, which appear straightforward at first glance, may require future changes. 
Curricular changes occurring on campus may suddenly upset the carefully developed plan. Last year our faculty passed a new General Education requirement, for which the library would provide two sessions of instruction during the fall semester. Library faculty agreed to this. Then the GenEd committee decided there would be a maximum of 20 students in each class. Suddenly the library faculty, eight of whom now provide instruction sessions, must plan for 50 or more additional sessions. We are seeking to add an instruction faculty member—while some library faculty see alternative positions as more important. 
The university Web page is under construction once again. Someone hired a commercial outfit to produce it, and many problems resulted. The hired firm had no concept of the importance of library access—so library faculty had to scream loud and clear. We now have a button on the home page, and control over what is seen on the following library pages. These seem like simple things, but require constant vigilance. 
5. Strategic control, feedback, and evaluation
Now that we have completed the earlier steps, we must ensure good feedback, evaluation, and review of the rollout of the strategic plan. In academia, faculty are intimately involved with all steps involving curricula and other academic affairs. Faculty Senate representatives meet biweekly with the Provost and Presidents Cabinet to ensure that faculty needs are being met during the implementation. Everyone watches the rollout carefully. Minor corrections are made as needed. Some of the changes chronicled above demonstrate this ongoing process.
The library’s place in strategic planning
And you may well say: “Where does the library fit into all of this?” Our library contributed to every step of the process, being fully represented on all committees. The mission statement of the library is fully compatible with the overall mission statement of the university. The library supports strategic planning for technologies with its own variations, including those for instruction. We know that the library is well-represented, because a librarian chairs the Faculty Senate and ensures this.
When many viewpoints are needed to ensure the success of strategic planning, we librarians can guarantee some measure of success by becoming involved, by getting into the game, and preferably by taking a position of power!
By Valerie Jackson Feinman
Valerie Jackson Feinman has been coordinator of library instruction at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, since 1985. She has an M.S.(L.S.) from Syracuse and an M.B.A. from Adelphi. She has served in academic libraries since 1965, and writes and speaks frequently about instruction issues. She was recently re-elected as chairperson of the Faculty Senate at Adelphi. Her e-mail address is

Monday, August 14, 2017

Assessing Your Leadership Style

Toastmasters International. Assessing Your Leadership Style. Kantla Productions, 1991, pp. 25-29.
Assessing your leadership style
Circle the choice that best applies to you:

Always Frequently Sometimes Seldom Never

A B C D E 1. Scolding non-performing employees does more harm than good.
A B C D E 2. I encourage team members to help each other.
A B C D E 3. I push my team to be the best.
A B C D E 4. I give my team members encouragement and emotional support.
A B C D E 5. When I speak, I represent my whole team, not just myself.
A B C D E 6. A productive team requires a delicate balance of skills and personalities.
A B C D E 7. I encourage team members to work faster and better.
A B C D E 8. I consult with team members before introducing new policies or procedures.
A B C D E 9. I know exactly what my team members are working on.
A B C D E 10. Management understands problems best.
A B C D E 11. I decide how things will be done.
A B C D E 12. I give praise or express appreciation to my team members.
A B C D E 13. I expect to see results every day.
A B C D E 14. I try to select team members whose personalities will blend well.
A B C D E 15. My team members choose their own assignments.
A B C D E 16. I explain my actions to team members.
A B C D E 17. Projects progress on a predictable schedule.
A B C D E 18. I work to build team spirit.
A B C D E 19. I encourage work after hours to complete the project.
A B C D E 20. I encourage discussion of non-work issues during working hours.
A B C D E 21. I know how much each team member is accomplishing.
A B C D E 22. Things go better when I am flexible.
A B C D E 23. I assign specific tasks to team members.
A B C D E 24. I enjoy working closely with other team members.
A B C D E 25. Pressuring team members to work harder causes them to slow down.
A B C D E 26. I trust my team members to exercise good judgement.
A B C D E 27. My team members know exactly what is expected of them every day.
A B C D E 28. My team members feel free to speak with me.
A B C D E 29. I give my team members detailed instructions.
A B C D E 30. Decisions made by groups or committees have the best chance to succeed.
A B C D E 31. Goals, quotas, and bonuses are the best incentives.
A B C D E 32. I work with and assist other team members.
A B C D E 33. I persuade others that my actions are in their best interests.
A B C D E 34. My team members like me.
A B C D E 35. I let my team set its own pace.
A B C D E 36. I grant authority to others.
A B C D E 37. I give special treatment to top producers.
A B C D E 38. I encourage team members to mature and gain skills by taking on challenging projects.
A B C D E 39. I work hard for promotions and leadership positions.
A B C D E 40. I avoid criticizing a team member when someone might overhear.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Management styles

Current trends in management
  • Do more with less
  • Listen to your customers
    • Take literature and apply to setting
  • Focus on quality service
  • Measure your performance
Trends change all the time.

Management by objectives (MBO)

  • Four basic management functions
    • Set objectives
    • Organize
      • Around objective
    •  Measure
      • Whether objectives are met
    • Develop people
Six other management tasks identified by Drucker
  • Take risks
  • Make strategic decisions
  • Build a team
    • Management should collaborate
  • Communicate quickly and clearly
  • See the role of the unit in the context of the organization as a whole
  • Manage by walking around
Crainer, Stuart. The Ultimate Business Library: 110 Thinkers Who Really Make a Difference. New York: AMACOM, 1998, p. 53.

Total quality management

  • Based on the writings of W. Edward Deming
  • Roots in the Japanese concept of quality circles
  • Emphasis is on achieving customer satisfaction, continuous improvement of organizational processes and on the production of high quality products and services
All effort needs to be put in for total quality management to work.

PDCA cycle

  • The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle
  • Plan carefully what needs to be done
  • Do it, i.e., carry out the plan
  • Check on progress and results
  • Act on both positive and negative results
  • Start the cycle again with a revised plan
The PDCA cycle is part of TQM, similar to strategic planning. What are the parent organization’s missions? Can they see what is in it for them? There are numerous strategies in organizations, some can be similar with only a twist.

  • The next person who gets your work
    • Not necessarily the public. Could be a department within the library, e.g., Acquisitions, Cataloguing
  • You must know the requirements of your customer
Measure progress
  • Set key indicators and targets
  • Strive for effectiveness and efficiency
  • Effectiveness: doing the right things
  • Efficiency: doing things right
TQM in libraries
  • Based on
    • Customer focus
    • Process improvement
      • How can libraries continually improve? E.g. interlibrary loan - type four part form, send/receive by mail, then fax machine, e-mail, Internet, Arial scanning
    • Employment empowerment
      • More libraries are allowing employees to make decisions with perhaps not applying rules
Learning organizations
  • Theory by Peter Senge
  • Need to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn
  • “Learning is about changing individuals so that they produce results they care about, accomplish things, that are important to them”
Crainer, Stuart. The Ultimate Business Library: 50 Books that Shaped Management Thinking. New York: AMACOM, 1997, p. 237.


What makes a leader?
Visible Listening skills
Inspiring Motivated
Enthusiastic Passionate
Authority Allows feedback for own improvement
Consistent decision making Willing decision making
Observes/utilizes strengths/weaknesses Can draw individuals group/delegate
Balance between taking charge/backing off Inner confidence
Willing to admit defeat/responsibility for own vision Vision
Integrity Decisiveness
Dependability Ability to communicate

Examples of good leaders:
  • Donald Trump, risk taker
  • Bill Clinton, charismatic
  • Winston Churchill, inspiring
  • Adolf Hitler, enigmatic
  • Lee Iacocoa, vision, innovative, motivate
  • Mother Theresa/Ghandi, lead by nature

From: Be Prepared to Lead, Applied Leadership Skills for Business Managers, Instructor’s Manual.

Leadership styles

Employee types

Monday, July 31, 2017

Staffing to meet missions and goals

What does staffing involve?
  • Recruitment
  • Selection
    • Should minimalize training required for people hired
  • Training
  • Evaluation
    • Make sure they do what is expected of them
  • Development of employees
    • Ongoing

Job analysis
  • Job: group of positions that generally involve the same responsibilities, knowledge, duties and skills
  • Job analysis: the process of observing and recording information about work performed by a specific employee in a specific position

Steps involved in job analysis
  • Decide how to collect the data
    • Questionnaire
  • Gather information regarding skills, knowledge abilities, qualifications and reporting structure
    • Conduct every two or three years to reflect every day job skills
  • Identify major components
  • Summarize 
    • What is this job? What does it do? Mental, physical requirements, abilities, compatibilities, capabilities
  • Create job description

Job description
  • Define the tasks that make up a job
  • Outlines relationship to other units
    • Include communications
  • Lists education, skill, and experience required
When there is a change in duty/responsibility, etc., the job description should be altered to reflect this

Why are job descriptions important?

  • Clarify responsibilities
  • Identify relationships between positions
    • Who has authority and direction over you?
  • Helps determine performance measures
    • Tracks number of jobs/duties performed
  • Helps to base an equitable salary scale
    • Are jobs similar? 
    • Why are people paid differently for the same job?
  • Guidance for handling grievances, discipline
    • Clarify what you can and can’t ,should and shouldn’t do
  • Helps in recruitment of new employees
    • Know who to hire and their skills
  • Gives new employees orientation
    • A job description explains what is expected of you

  • Style simple and brief
  • Use present tense
    • Reflection of it being done
  • Use quantitative words whenever possible
  • Each sentence should begin with active verb

When is job description written?
  • Creation
  • Changes
    • Relationship
    • Duty
    • Equipment
    • Skills

Who writes it?
  • Often incumbent and manager

Parts of job description
  • Job title
    • Position
  • Job summary
    • What it is
  • Duties and responsibilities
    • Often listed
  • Relationships
    • How everything is related to one another
  • Qualifications
  • Certifications
    • Who need to approve description

Performance standards
Is the job being performed well?

  • Written after job description
  • Describes the level of performance the employee is expected to achieve and/or objectives

Standards should be
  • Concrete and specific
  • Practical to measure
  • Meaningful
  • Realistic and achievable
  • Similar jobs should have similar performance standards

3 key components
  • What is being assessed
  • Criteria on which it is assessed
  • How performance will be monitored and measured
What margins of error are expected? No one can be perfect, but there shouldn’t be a huge error of margin. What would be the consequences?

Performance criteria

  • Quantity
    • How many?
    • What do you expect?
    • When do you expect it?
  • Quality 
    • Adhere to particular standards
    • If not, have reasons to discuss
  • Timeliness
    • How quickly?
    • By what time?
    • How frequently?

  • All invoices received are posted within the same working day with no more than x posting errors per week returned for corrections
    • Measured in returns and time in Acquisitions
  • Thirty copy cataloguing requests are completed per day in accordance with AACR2R and local standards with no more than x returned for corrections
    • Expected in larger divisions with high expectations, will vary from size

Monday, July 24, 2017

The perils of culture conflict

Siegel, Matt. “The Perils of Culture Conflict.” Fortune; 11/09/98, Vol. 138, Issue 9, p257, 3p, 3c.
Culture Watch What Do You Value At Work?
The 54 items listed below cover the full range of personal and institutional values you’d be likely to encounter at any company. Professor Jennifer Chatman and others use this list to study cultural preferences. Divide it into two groups: the 27 that would be the most evident in your ideal workplace, and the 27 that would be the least. Keep halving the groups until you have a rank ordering, then fill in the numbers of your top and bottom ten choices. Test your fit at a firm by seeing whether the company’s values match your top and bottom ten.
1. Flexible. 2. Adaptable. 3. Innovative. 4. Able to seize opportunities.
5. Willing to experiment. 6. Risk-taking. 7. Careful. 8. Autonomy-seeking.
9. Comfortable with rules. 10. Analytical. 11. Attentive to detail. 12. Precise.
13. Team-oriented. 14. Ready to share information. 15. People-oriented.
16. Easygoing. 17. Calm. 18. Supportive. 19. Aggressive. 20. Decisive.
21. Action-oriented. 22. Eager to take initiative. 23. Reflective.
24. Achievement-oriented. 25. Demanding.
26. Comfortable with individual responsibility. 27. Comfortable with conflict.
28. Competitive. 29. Highly organized. 30. Results-oriented.
31. Interested in making friends at work. 32. Collaborative.
33. Eager to fit in with colleagues. 34. Enthusiastic about the job.
35. Stability. 36. Predictability. 37. High expectations of performance.
38. Opportunities for professional growth. 39. High pay for good performance.
40. Job security. 41. Praise for good performance.
42. A clear guiding philosophy. 43. A low level of conflict.
44. An emphasis on quality. 45. A good reputation.
46. Respect for the individual’s right. 47. Tolerance. 48. Informality.
49. Fairness. 50. A unitary culture through the organization.
51. A sense of social responsibility. 52. Long hours.
53. Relative freedom from rules.
54. The opportunity to be distinctive, or different from others.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Corporate culture

Case, John. “Corporate Culture” from Inc.; Nov 96, Vol. 18 Issue 16, p. 42, 8p.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Corporate cultures: a color coding metaphor

Brink, T. L. “Corporate cultures: a color coding metaphor.” Business Horizons, Sep/Oct 91, Vol. 34 Issue 5, p. 39-45.
Is your organization cool green, hot red, true blue, or dull gray? The answer could explain your feelings about work. 
“A theory is a set of abstract concepts that we make about a group of facts or events in order to explain them” (Engler, 1979). Unlike data, which are to be judged on the basis of their accuracy (as determined by the validity and reliability of the measures on which they are based), theories are to be judged on their idols to be worshipped, and must be judged on the basis of their utility, not their sacredness. Otherwise, they come to be seen as cruel masters, rather than useful servants. 
Some organizational theorists have contended that theories must be expressible as a mathematical formula (Mater, 1960). Whereas such theories may present more precise powers of prediction, they may be less easy to grasp (especially by non-academic practitioners). Opposing Maier’s thesis is the dictum that good theory is simple. I shall take a synthetic position: The best theory is one that represents a balance between simplicity and precision so that theory can be employed in daily practice. 
The theory of corporate culture
Beginning in the 1980s, the model of the organization as a human cultural system has become a topic for academic researchers and theoreticians. Organizational cultures tend to be self-perpetuating because the dominant culture affects such things as who is selected for employment, who is promoted, and who is rewarded. People in positions of hiring authority do not hire or promote whoever is best in an objective sense, but whomever appears to be best to them. And their own view of “best” is colored by the corporate culture. Different organizations reward people differently. Those individuals not getting the kind of rewards they need look for more compatible organizations. After a while, the organization’s culture becomes widespread knowledge throughout the host society, and people who have compatible personalities are attracted to their appropriate organizations. This kind of career filtering leads to a homogenous group of people in a given organization—at least homogenous in the sense of sharing the same work-related values.
This concept of corporations as cultures has generated useful theories as to why some mergers might fail—“a clash of different cultures,” according to Lefkoe (1987)—or how leaders need to embody and articulate the values of the culture. CEOs and front-line managers have become enamored with the concept of corporate culture, but their conceptions of culture have more hype than the kind of cautious concern for precise measurement found among academicians. 
Before we chastise the practitioners for simplifying our formulations, let us acknowledge that practitioner context requires concepts that lead to rapid identification of problems and suggestions of specific solutions. The academician’s approach to culture must involve numerous dimensions for the consideration of interacting variables. Practitioners prefer an easy-to-remember typology that allows pigeonholing of any situation. 
There have been several attempts to offer a fourfold typology of organizational culture. Vrakking (1985) suggested “power,” “role,” “task,” and “persons” orientations. Quinn and McGrath (1985) used four different terms to outline a similar breakdown: rational, hierarchical, ideological and consensual. Maccoby’s (1988) study of the personalities of today’s workers delineated four types that may correspond to the fourfold typology of organizations: innovator, defender, expert, and helper—plus a new type that did not fit very well in any organization, the self-developer. 
Color coding cultures
Porter (1974, 1978) developed a color-coded theory of motivation that described how individuals behave in interpersonal situations. Because corporate cultures are arenas for interpersonal activity, Porter’s theory might be applicable. Various typologies, organizational aspects, and their corresponding colors are depicted in Table 1.
Table 1: Porter’s Typology and Organizational Aspects

Cool green Hot red True blue Dull gray
Vrakking's term Task Power Person Role
Quinn & McGrath's
Ideological Rational Consensual Hierarchical
Maccoby's term Expert Innovator Helper Defender
Aspects of organization
Role of individual
Low High Low Low
Autonomy of individuals High Low Low Low
Role of formal rules Low Low Low High
Role of informal
Low Low High Low
Manager seen as a
Usually Usually Rarely Never
Manager seen as a 
Usually Rarely Usually Sometimes
Manager seen as a 
Rarely Rarely Rarely Sometimes
Manager seen as a 
rule follower
Sometimes Rarely Sometimes Usually
Manager seen as a
smother of
Sometimes Rarely Usually Rarely
Manager seen as a
facilitator and
Usually Sometimes Rarely Rarely
Age of organization Varies Young Varies Old
Size of organization Varies Small Small Large
Organization chart Flat Flat Confused Tall
Role of budgets and
High Low Varies High
Market served Dynamic Dynamic Stable Stable
Average job tenure Varies Short Long Long
Evaluation based
on achievement
Yes Yes No No
Evaluation based on
No Yes No Yes
Promotion based on
No No Yes Yes
Promotion based on
standard assessment
No No No Yes
Promotion based on 
No No Yes No
Stress due to
fast pace
No Yes No No
Stress due to
No No No Yes
Boredom No No Yes Yes
Control factor
Direct supervision Rarely Usually Rarely Rarely
Mutual adjustment Usually Sometimes Usually Rarely
Standardization of
work process
Rarely Sometimes Rarely Usually
Standardization of
Sometimes Usually Rarely Rarely
Standardization of
Usually Rarely Sometimes Sometimes
Cool green
Cool green people are motivated by autonomy. Usually these are very intelligent and competent people who like to do their own thing, in their own way, without having to depend upon others for help or guidance. In a work situation, they will respect the autonomy and integrity of others and require that kind of respect from both colleagues and managers. Cool greens dislike being around exploitative, emotional, or frivolous people and prefer to be around others who will respect them.
This type of interpersonal motivational style would be right at home in certain organizations. Let’s call them cool green organizations. They are built upon a foundation of mutual respect for autonomy and respect. Employees tend to be highly competent professionals capable of working independently. The cool green environment is enjoyed by physicians in a medical group, senior partners in a law firm, management consultants who affiliate with each other, professors at a top university, and engineers on a R&D project. Whereas some of the most admired U.S. companies (Merck, IBM, Hewlett-Packard) have successfully maintained this cool green culture--at least for some employees—most large organizations find it difficult to give much respect to individual autonomy. 
Cool green cultures are characterized by creative activity. Some of the employees seem to be non-conformists. Such deviance is not usually accepted in other types of organizations, but the cool green accepts this as a sign of creative potential rather than a symbol of nihilistic rebellion. Whereas other cultures may be fearful of brash know-it-alls, this culture realizes that although they don’t know it all, they do know something, and can use their knowledge to achieve much if given the opportunity to do so. 
The lack of external controls over employees means that such organizations must select employees who are so internally directed they can be trusted to do what they should, even though no one is checking up on them. An organization cannot remain a cool green culture if it lets just anyone in, for few people are sufficiently competent and self-directed. Perhaps that is why such cultures tend to be confined to organizations that employ people whose professional training has been long and difficult, having served to establish high levels of competence, and cull out the inept or undermotivated. 
Hot red
Porter describes hot red people as being assertive and directive. They see themselves as strong and ambitious, and want to rise to a position of leadership and authority. Hot reds like to be around subordinates who obey and superiors who will model and mentor for them. They dislike being around inept, gullible, uncommitted, or rebellious people. Hot reds think that any one who cannot lead or follow should get out of the way. We could apply this personality type to young, small organizations whose culture still reflects the personality of an entrepreneurial founder. A hot red environment can be maintained even in larger organizations if there is a high rate of growth.
This culture has several things in common with cool green. Both emphasize the importance of achieving goals, but in the cool green environment employees are fairly free to determine their own goals and how to reach them, whereas in the hot red environment the boss tells them what their goals are. Both types of organizations would have a fairly flat and lean organizational chart, with few intervening levels of management or staffs or “assistants to” off on the side. (Because they put such a high percentage of their workers in these directly productive roles, both the cool green and hot red organizations actually do accomplish a great deal.) The cool green organization is lean because decisions are made directly and autonomously by individuals. Hot red organizations can dispense with procedures manuals and committees because they are like a dictatorship. The employee’s task is to listen to the boss carefully and obey thoroughly. 
Employees in hot red organizations, especially middle-level managers, feel they are being evaluated by two different standards: what they achieve and whether they have followed orders. Of course, these two standards are thoroughly compatible when the boss gives you an order to accomplish something, then leaves it up to you to figure out how—or when the boss tells you how and the boss’s method works. But what do you do when you think you have a better way? What does the boss really want, obedience or results? The more management respects employee input, the more the culture approximates cool green. But the stereotypical red hot executive thinks, “I built up this business from nothing, so don’t tell me how to run it.” 
Such an attitude frustrates subordinates’ creativity. They don’t know whether to be on their toes or on their knees. This lowers morale and leads to turnover. Competent technical and professional employees seeking more autonomy will look for another firm with a cooler, greener environment, while confident middle-level managers may turn entrepreneurial and start their own hot red firms so they can do things their way. 
True blue
Porter also spoke of a true blue personality. These are “people” oriented people who want, more than anything else, mutually supportive, friendly interpersonal relationships. True blues are helpful and concerned; they get along with people who need them and who, in turn, are concerned about them and kind to them. True blues have a hard time dealing with selfish, competitive, or detached people.
We could apply this interpersonal style to the kind of organization that is more concerned with the group’s subjective assessment of the quality of the interpersonal process at work than with any objective accomplishments. In the true blue environment, no one person should be “bossy” because that might be upsetting for some people. Leadership in the true blue culture tends to be a case of the bland leading the bland. If a promotion becomes available, a senior or popular person will be accepted by the group, but not an ambitious, abrasive achiever, especially an outside one “who does not appreciate our way of doing things around here.” 
Decisions, when they are made, should be made not by individuals but by groups, especially everybody. Of course, it is difficult to get committees to come up with bold courses of action, and it is even more difficult to achieve unanimous consensus (the true blue ideal), so not that many decisions are made in these cultures. Chronic indecisiveness also means there will be no organization charts or job descriptions or objective evaluation for employees. 
The true blue culture is possible only in small organizations serving stable and secure market segments. The people who fit into this culture will stay a lifetime. Usually they will tolerate poor wages, for they have so many supportive coworkers with whom to commiserate. Those who want to accomplish something will leave for red or green organizations, because the true blue culture is designed to resist change, and achievers are scorned as brash, antisocial types. Many true blue cultures have a hard time with exceptionally talented individuals who serve as a painful reminder to everyone else that many people in such organizations are less than competent. 
Where do true blue organizations come from? Once they were hot red or cool green; they had external goals, which they met, and earned a niche in the marketplace. The niche got so established that the market position was secure, so it became unnecessary to worry about meting the external goal. Management tried to be “kind” or got lax about who was selected (especially if low pay meant a small pool of applicants from which to choose). As long as the market doesn’t change, these organizations can survive. But a dynamic marketplace is a call for action and achievement and true blue organizations have an inbred incapacity to respond to anything other than their employees’ feelings. Many true blues would rather die than change, and they get their wish. 
Dull gray
Although Porter had only three types of interpersonal styles, I would suggest a fourth kind of organizational culture: the dull gray of bureaucracy. This culture is founded in organizations that are run on the basis of rules, guidelines, and procedures manuals instead of individual authority or group participation. Government agencies are prototypes, but most large, old organizations find themselves developing formalized procedures and an organizational chart with more levels of management (and more positions off to the side). Just as a ton of iron turns to three tons of rust, a once lean and productive organization finds that it now has most of its people in middle-level management and staffing positions.
Instead of focusing on achieving goals, the dull gray culture is concerned with procedures. Unlike true blue consideration, bureaucracies follow impersonal guidelines to the letter. The rules are not written to respond to people, so people must respond to the rules. Of course, the rules were originally made to help accomplish some goal, purpose, or mission, but that was a while back. Now they are enforced by administrators, inspectors, and clerks who have clear-cut job descriptions but little knowledge of, or commitment to, the overall mission of the organization. They are just doing their jobs—following the book or passing the book. 
The dull gray culture values precision and continuity, and any attempt to bend the rules to fit an individual case would violate those norms. Unfortunately, ignoring the variability of humankind is one of the greatest sins against human nature. People often complain, justifiably, that bureaucrats treat them as numbers rather than individuals—that the purpose of the agency seems to be to follow the rules rather than solve real world problems. To the extent that problem solving requires a creative approach, this is true, for bureaucracies are intrinsically incapable of creative responses. 
Who gets promoted in a bureaucracy? One factor rarely considered is concrete achievements. Rather, the upwardly mobile bureaucrat usually has a combination of the following traits: seniority, paperwork attesting to compliance with formal procedures, experience in managing large budgets (which can be made larger by increasing expenditures), not making superiors angry (though not necessarily having done anything to please them either), high scores on standardized tests, and a talent at writing new procedures in “officialise” (the language that protects the writer instead of informing the reader). 
Unfortunately, bureaucracies tend to be interpersonal environments that few humans find optimal, as either superiors or subordinates. The routine nature of the work can become a monotony leading to boredom. The lack of interpersonal consideration means that interpersonal stresses will mount. Most “burnout” occurs in human service professionals who try to function within a bureaucratic context. 
Why do bureaucratic workers stay on for so long? The color of the culture may be a dull gray, but the handcuffs are golden. Most of these workers would not be selected for a cool green organization and could not keep a job in the demanding pace of a hot red company. The package of wages, benefits, and pensions that large, bureaucratic organizations offer is usually substantially higher than that found in the small true blues. Best of all, there is incredible job security—just follow the book and you can’t be fired. And, unlike in the smaller true blues, there is little danger of a large bureaucracy going out of business, especially a government agency. Nevertheless, most people are probably happier in a brighter, non-bureaucratic environment. 
Dull gray seems to fall on most firms as they age. The hot red company grows so big that one person cannot direct it, so orders become written memos, then formalized procedures. When the cool green havens of autonomy start becoming dependent upon budgets, especially funding that comes from the government, government-imposed regulations are not far behind—as education and health care have discovered. 
How to diagnose corporate culture
Consultants and even job seekers must learn how to correctly identify the culture of a potential client or employer. There are tip-offs given by a site visit. Upscale cars in the parking lot and quality furnishings usually bespeak a hot red or cool green environment. When offices are little cubicles or “rat mazes,” a cool green culture cannot survive. How do the people dress? Like they are trying to impress the boss? It’s hot red. Like they have the freedom and money to where whatever they want? It’s cool green. Like uniforms? Dull gray. Like some are too poor to dress any better, and the rest of the people don’t want to embarrass them? True blue. Look at calendars and knick-knacks on the desks. Highly individualized? Cool green. Designed to impress? Hot red. Designed to pass inspection? Hot red or dull gray. If you see things such as “Hang in there,” “Is it Friday yet?” or “Murphy’s Law”—true blue or dull gray.
One of the best approaches is to directly solicit information about the corporate culture in the interview. What kind of people seem to be happiest here? Who doesn’t fit in? Who gets frustrated and leaves? However, there is some bit of danger in asking these questions, because true blue interviewers expect that everyone should love their organizations, and some red hots and bureaucrats will think only unappreciative rebels have problems fitting in. So it may be better to just listen to the interviewer’s description of things. Words like “opportunity” are essentially claims of being hot red; “independence, creativity, problem solving” are claims that an organization is cool green; “We’re just one big happy family” or “The world’s nicest people work here” would denote a true blue image. 
But beware: not all organizations give an honest portrayal of themselves (Table 2). Cool greens are usually honest and accurately describe their environments. The other cultures may be honest or may try to make the organization look a little better than it is. Dull gray, for example, won’t say it is a bureaucracy unless it really is. Some red hots and true blues may describe themselves as being more green then they actually are. This is not always due to a bald-faced attempt at deception. Some red hot managers actually believe they give their subordinates more independence than they do, and some true blues imagine that their people actually accomplish something—such managers just don’t know the different. Rarely will bureaucracies attempt to claim that they are cool green, but may represent that there is more opportunity (red) or consideration (blue) than there actually is. 
Table 2 How different cultures present themselves
These cultures Cool green Hot red True blue Dull gray
May claim to be these
Cool green
Hot red
True blue
Dull gray

Decisions and changes in the corporate culture
There are four levels of power within the decision-making process (see table 3). The “prime mover” is the person (or office) having the greatest responsibility for innovating as well as implementing a new program. Someone having “veto consent” must approve of the project before it can be enacted. (Extensive use of this level means that new programs can be easily blocked.) The level of “solicit input” means that the person will be consulted prior to any change, but this level is not capable of blocking unwanted change. The lowest level is to merely “inform” someone a decision has been made, after the fact. (Exclusive use of this level for the implementers means they may be called upon to develop the details and accomplish the goals of programs in which they had no say.)

Table 3: Levels of responsibility
Roles for decision making Cool green Hot red True blue Dull gray
External markets and authorities Solicit input Solicit input  Inform Prime mover
Top executives and administrators Veto consent Prime mover Veto consent Solicit input
Middle level executives Prime mover Inform Solicit input Inform
Committees Solicit input Inform Veto consent Inform
Keys to levels of responsibility Has highest
level of
gets decision
 process moving
May block a decision,
but not get one going
Must be consulted
before a decision
made, but cannot
block one
Must be informed
after the decision
has been made,
but no input is
given before

Hot reds listen to their marketplace, but otherwise this can be a model of dictatorial decision making. Equally unattractive is the dull gray bureaucratic model. The true blue offers the best guarantee that bad programs will not be adopted, but the least chance of launching new programs that address the needs of a shifting market.

Cool green has the advantage of making the middle-level managers (who are the actual implementers) the prime movers. Veto comes only from higher administrators who have to direct control over budgets. Committees can and should be consulted prior to the decisions about new programs, but their consent is not essential.

It is easier for individuals to leave incompatible corporate cultures than to stay and change them. The most foolish thing any one person can do is attempt to change a corporate culture. Unless a new chief executive can change the underlying root metaphor and dominant myth of the culture, he or she cannot begin to transform the organization. Then these symbolic changes will have to be followed up by changes in the reward system and long-term changes in what kinds of people are hired and promoted within the organization. Otherwise, buzzwords change, but the people and their behavior stay the same.

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By T.L. Brink.
T.L. Brink is a visiting professor of psychology at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, and is on the faculty of Crafton Hills College, Yucaipa, California.