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Organizational Culture

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Reflection on Chapter 11: How Do I Navigate Between Different Cultures at Work?

Before I get into the chapter's reflection question, I have to say that this has been my favorite chapter so far. Dr. Hobson takes Ed Schein's assertion that every organization has three subcultures (Operators, Engineers, and Executives) and explains how it impacts our work as instructional designers.

The table below describes how these organizational subcultures differ in their beliefs:




People Are The...

Critical resource

Problem to be designed out of the system when possible

A necessary evil to complete required tasks

Success Depends On...

The knowledge, skill, adaptability and commitment of the people

Systems based on science and technology

Financial growth

Role of Management

Provide support, training, and resources

Prioritize useful projects and outcomes

Deliver profitable results

Each blog post in this series (#WIWIK) will take a moment to reflect on the questions at the end of each chapter.

Feel free to join the conversation by responding in the comments with your answers to the discussion questions (with plain text or a link to your post).

Here is the reflection question for the eleventh chapter:

Think about your own subculture at your organization. What assumptions fairly represent your group?

I'm going to call an audible here because I'm still relatively new in my organization and focus on which of the assumptions fairly represent me and making assumptions about guiding beliefs of those I work with in a remote job where we aren't interacting on a daily basis seems like it will lead to some unfair or incorrect conclusions.

Dr. Hobson labeled instructional designers as belonging to the Engineer group, and I think that's accurate. I very much enjoy designing and creating systems, especially when they utilize technology.

I'm also guilty of trying to design people out of some of those systems or create strong guardrails that prevent them from breaking the system. When I was a web manager for our school's website, I hated that teachers were making their websites all kinds of different colors, full of animations, and changing fonts and themes to make content difficult to read. While it wasn't in my power to do so, I joked* about how we should only let teachers use black and white until they demonstrated they were capable of using color responsibly. I also have a habit of locking columns in spreadsheets and changing the themes in Google Slides so my templates aren't easily changed by people who don't know what they're doing.

Hobson also states that the engineer subculture believes that "real work involves solving puzzles and overcoming problems." Again, I think this is a fair assumption about organizational beliefs I have. Value is added in problems removed. While I know people are *at* work all of the time, if nothing gets done then it isn't productive and doesn't add any benefit to the organization.

What do you think? Which group do you belong in and do the assumptions listed in the chart accurately describe your organizational beliefs and subculture?


*Okay, I was 100% serious about this, but I said it with a charming smile.


Hobson, L. (2021). What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer. Independently published.

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