March 15, 2023
by John O. Burdett
Although the formal organisation gets all of the attention, the real action takes place in the white space on the organisation chart, between the boxes.
I wrote this short book for a very specific reason. Although a great deal is being currently written about organisation culture, very little of that work focuses on the informal organisation.
This is surprising, not only because the informal culture dominates but because, as a leader, if you are not managing the informal organisation, it’s managing you. The hiring process, training and development, employee safety, the approach to compensation, flattening the organisation and a host of other interventions influence how the informal organisation both acts and reacts. The theme of the grapevine – the communication nexus within the informal organisation – was chosen because, when it comes to action, this is where leaders will likely get the greatest return on their efforts.
It’s a helpful learning device but, in reality, the formal and the informal organisations are not entirely separate entities. They bleed into each other. They represent the two, interwoven strands of the organisation’s DNA. Two sides of the same coin. You can’t spend only one side of a coin. You can’t change one without impacting the other.
Download the full insights
- Part One: Setting the Context
- Chapter One: The Primacy of Culture
- Chapter Two: The Other Culture
- Chapter Three: The Grapevine
- Chapter Four: Doublespeak
- Part Two: Moving to Action
- Chapter Five: Cultivating the Grapevine
- 1. Leadership matters
- 2. Seek out the informal leaders
- 3. Listen, listen, listen
- 4. Tell people the truth
- 5. Be optimistic
- 6. Face-to-face is invariably better
- 7. Know your audience
- 8. Get the middle kingdom back in the game
- 9. Make storytelling a key leadership competency
- 10. Put energy into the engagement process.
This article is an extract of content © Orxestra® Inc. The download is available from the TRANSEARCH International website.
John O. Burdett is founder of Orxestra® Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organisations that are household names. John has worked on organisation culture for some of the world's largest organisations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organisations around the world. Get in touch with John O. Burdett »