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Work processes and culture reveal organization’s values

Software reflects an organization’s values. That was the title of a presentation last week by Jason Young from North Carolina State University and IT systems manager for eXtension. He said computer software comes with a code that establishes the rules you have to live by.

Think about software a bit. Who has permission to change code? Who has permission to edit the copy on a Web page? How difficult is it to get permission to do those things? The software and the answers to these questions tell you a great deal about an organization’s values. It may be controlling and hierarchal or it may be collaborative and open.

eXtension uses MediaWiki, the software of Wikipedia. That means anyone within a work group can edit. Everyone can see the history log of who made changes and when. eXtension staff meeting notes are posted on the wiki. Anyone in the Cooperative Extension System nationwide can read the notes. What is the culture? What are the values? It’s collaborative, open and honest communication.

Two value examples from about.com
1. If you value integrity and you experience a quality problem in your manufacturing process, you honestly inform your customer of the exact nature of the problem. You discuss your actions to eliminate the problem, and the anticipated delivery time the customer can expect. If integrity is not a fundamental value, you may make excuses and mislead the customer.

2. If you value equality and a sense of family, you will wipe out the physical trappings of power, status, and inequality such as executive parking places and offices that grow larger by a foot with every promotion.

More about values
Traditional 20th-Century Organization: A Machine-Like Entity vs. The Values-Based Organization: A Living, Breathing Community

Proof of values
Anyone can say they have specific values in their organization, but the proof is in the processes and the culture. That’s integrity—stating what you believe, telling others that is what you believe and acting it out.

Do you have examples of values displayed in work processes and cultures?


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"Work practices can tell you a great deal about the culture of an organization including how much employees are respected" Equally important is... "how much employees respect and support the organization itself". Especially in times like now when change is daily and budget cuts seem to occur more often than the changes in seasons.

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