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Counting the dance steps: Rethinking how we define, measure, and change organisational cultures for the good of all: Rethinking how we measure and change organisational cultures for the good of all

“Counting the Dance Steps” by Andrew Cocks is a interesting read that offers a fresh perspective on how we measure and change organizational cultures for the benefit of all. The author emphasises that culture is often blamed for organisational scandals, yet there is a lack of clarity or definition of what culture is, how it functions, and what actions to take.

“Counting the Dance Steps” by Andrew Cocks is a interesting read that offers a fresh perspective on how we measure and change organizational cultures for the benefit of all. The author emphasises that culture is often blamed for organisational scandals, yet there is a lack of clarity or definition of what culture is, how it functions, and what actions to take.

In the book, Andrew Cocks challenges common beliefs about culture, such as the idea that culture is nebulous and unmeasurable. This notion is widely accepted and used as a defense when things go awry. Culture is portrayed as complex and elusive, making it difficult to hold anyone accountable. He explains that this lack of clarity obscures accountability and dilutes individual responsibility.

Andrew Cocks uses the book to question the current orthodoxy and offer new methods for conceptualising, measuring, and changing culture. The author argues that understanding and measuring culture is possible – but to achieve this, we must discard all the misleading ideas and comprehend the forces that shape culture.

Drawing on his years of experience, Cocks presents practical advice and actionable insights valuable to anyone seeking to understand their organisation’s culture and create a more positive and productive workplace. One aspect I appreciated most about this book was Cocks’ focus on the human element of workplace culture. He emphasises the importance of fostering environments where people feel a sense of belonging and are valued for their unique perspectives and talents.

Instead of treating culture as a collection of abstract concepts or management buzzwords, he recognises that culture is ultimately about people and their interactions with one another. He underscores the significance of cultural awareness and allocating time for individuals to reflect on whether the organisation’s and their values align with the behaviours at play. Additionally, he discusses the power of self-reinforcing mechanisms that shape organisational cultures.

The book tackles the challenging subject of measuring culture and engagement. The author dissects the issues with traditional employee survey approaches and offers valuable insights and suggestions for making measurement more effective and impactful.

Another strength of “Counting the Dance Steps” is Cocks’ clear and engaging writing style. Despite dealing with complex and nuanced concepts, he presents his ideas in a way that is easy to understand and apply. Throughout the book, Cocks presents numerous examples and case studies that demonstrate how culture is shaped.  Many are from the world of banking which is a rich space for looking at culture, risk and scandal.

Overall,  “Counting the Dance Steps”  will be of interest to anyone looking to build a more positive and productive workplace culture.

Available on Amazon

Dani Bacon is an Organisation Development consultant, co-founder of Distinction Consulting and co-host of the Distinction podcast

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