How trusting is your organization's culture?

April 16, 2022
Organizations that tend toward trusting cultures exhibit higher software delivery performance and higher levels of job satisfaction.

One book I talk about a lot is Accelerate. The reason is simple: Few other books have as much hard data about what works and what doesn’t in software delivery.

One of the first sections of the book talks about organizational culture, and it does this through the lens of the Westrum Organizational Culture Typology, a cultural model put forth by Ron Westrum in his paper A typology of organisational cultures. In summary, Westrum identifies three broad types of organizational cultures, which Accelerate summarizes with the following table:

Westrum Organizational Typologies: Pathalogical (Power-oriented), Bureaucratic (Rule-oriented), Generative (Performance-oriented)

Naturally his paper (which is quite short, actually—only 6 pages) goes into much more detail. But what Accelerate reported is that in the author’s research, they found that organizations that tend toward Generative culture exhibit both higher software delivery performance and higher levels of job satisfaction.

Although the table above is not intended as a full diagnostic tool, it should give you a general feeling for where your current organization falls. Do you think your organization tends toward Pathological, Bureaucratic, or Generative? And as this is a spectrum, and not every level of the organization behaves identically, I expect most of us will have different answers depending on whether we’re evaluating our immediate team, our department, or the company as a whole.

How do you feel this affects your personal job satisfaction? How does it affect your team’s ability to deliver software?

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