ARTICLE

What is IT culture? Today’s leaders need to know

by | Thu 15 Jun 2017

See my new post for opensource.com about how you build culture in an organization/community:

“Culture” is a pretty ambiguous word. Sure, reams of social science research explore exactly what exactly “culture” is, but to the average Joe and Josephine the word really means something different than it does to academics. In most scenarios, “culture” seems to map more closely to something like “the set of social norms and expectations in a group of people.” By extension, then, an “IT culture” is simply “the set of social norms and expectations pertinent to a group of people working in an IT organization.”

I suspect most people see themselves as somewhat passive contributors to this thing called “culture.” Sure, we know we can all contribute to cultural change, but I don’t think most people actually feel particularly empowered to make this kind of meaningful change. On top of that, we can also observe significant changes in cultural norms that depend on variables like time and geography. An IT company in China, for example, might have a very different culture from a company in the San Francisco area. A startup in Birmingham, England will have a different culture to a similar startup in Berlin, Germany. And so on.

Culture is critical. It’s the lifeblood of an organization, but it’s complicated to understand and shape. The “IT culture” of the 1980s and 1990s differs from “IT culture” today—and it will be different again 10 years from now. Apart from generational changes, cultural norms for IT practitioners have changed, too. Today, digital technology is more social, more accessible to people with fewer technical skills, and more embedded in our consumer-oriented world than ever. We’ve learned to cherish simplicity, elegance, and design, and this has reflected the kinds of organizations that are forming.

Read it here.

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