The Culture of Communications

No one has done more to advance our knowledge and understanding of organizational culture than Edgar Schein.

In some of his most recent work with Culture University, Schein observes that while the discipline of organizational culture has developed significantly over the past twenty years, the one area that has not been sufficiently understood is occupational culture. He comments that increasingly, transformation initiatives rely not only on building teams across an organization, but more precisely, they depend on our ability to build connections between occupational cultures.

This insight led me to think about the unique occupational culture of communications, and how those forces affect our ability to collaborate, co-create and connect across our organizations.

Just as a major transformation initiative at a hospital may be helped or hindered by the tension between the “doctor culture” and “nurse culture”, so too might corporate transformations be significantly affected by the natural points of friction between occupational cultures such as our own.

The need to reflect on the occupational culture of communications, and its impact on transformation initiatives is particularly vital given that as a function, we are often called upon to help fuel change. As such, a good place to start is to develop self-awareness about our cultural norms, patterns and beliefs, and consider their impact on our organization’s change efforts.

One of the best ways to develop awareness of the invisible forces of culture is to ask yourself: “What is an example of something that would happen in [our communications team] that wouldn’t happen anywhere else in the organization?” This may be an important conversation for you to have with your communications colleagues as you embark on an organizational transformation initiative.