Educational Success Concepts (ESC) and the Breckenridge Institute

ESC has developed key partnerships with a network of organizations that provide services and products which complement our programs and business objectives. In the areas of organizational culture, change, transformation and online assessments, we have partnered with the Breckenridge Institute. 

Has Your Organization Reached An Impasse?

Is your organization unable to change in the face of forces and threats from the business environment? Do you make key decisions that go unimplemented? Are you struggling against overly complex systems that frustrate and undermine your attempts to create positive change? Does your organization’s culture act like an Invisible Bureaucracy™ that prevents you from getting the results you want? These are signs that your organization has reached an impasse. The Breckenridge Institute’s free Organizational Impasse Indicator™ will show you what this may be costing you in squandered time and energy – hidden costs that don’t appear on the Balance Sheet or Budget Statements.

For more information on the Breckenridge Institute’s approach to organizational culture and to try Breckenridge Institute’s FREE Organizational Impasse Indicator™ contact ESC at email or 270-873-7433. This is the first step to making invisible bureaucracy visible and to moving beyond the Organizational Impasse™ that’s preventing your organization from getting the results you want.

Organizational Culture and Invisible Bureaucracy™

Most managers struggle against the flow of overly complex systems and are frustrated by an invisible force that undermines their attempts to effect positive change. Their instincts tell them that the organization’s structures, systems, and culture are preventing them from getting the results they want, but “culture” has remained one of the least understood aspects of organizational life – until now. The Breckenridge Institute’s portfolio of organizational culture assessment tools reveal how organizational culture can act like an Invisible Bureaucracy™ that frustrates and undermines organizational performance. The day-to-day reality of Invisible Bureaucracy manifests itself in a number of recurring and troubling questions:

  • Why is it so difficult for some organizations to make decisions, and why (once made) do so many decisions go unimplemented?
  • Why do most organizations have a gap between the formal rules for how things get done, and the informal rules for how things really get done?
  • Why does vital business information get filtered, altered, or stopped as it moves up and down through the organizational structure?
  • Why do projects that seem to have the full support of top managers and key personnel die a slow death and no one knows what happened to them?
  • Why are some organizations able to change in the face of forces and threats from the external environment while others seem to have “Blind Spots” about these issues and fall prey to them over and over again?
  • Why do the universal principles of organization development seem to work in some organizations, but not in others?
  • Why do change initiatives so often show failed or marginal results?
  • Why do so many people find their work to be a substantial part of life’s problems, rather than one of the solutions to life’s problems?

Understanding how the forces of Invisible Bureaucracy actually work begins to transform “culture” into a reliable resource that can be intentionally used to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives. Like a pair of infra-red glasses allows you to see things at night, the Breckenridge Institute’s approach to organizational culture will make Invisible Bureaucracy visible. Once you’ve learned to ‘see’ differently, you’ll never view organizations (or the people in them) the same way again.

Creating an Intended Culture™

Ground-breaking studies like Jim Collins’ books, Built to Last and Good to Great, and John Kotter’s book, Corporate Culture and Performance have shown that while an organization’s culture powerfully molds its operating style and can positively (or negatively) affect its performance, “culture” has remained an overly-complex and somewhat mysterious topic for most managers and organizations. One of the keys to simplifying and demystifying the topic of organizational culture is to understand the degree to which an organization’s culture is intended or unintended. An Intended Culture™ is consciously configured to achieve an organization’s desired results; e.g., its goals and objectives. An Unintended Culture™ tends to be riddled with ineffective autopilot operations and Invisible Bureaucracy that derail, frustrate, and undermine organizational intentions as embodied in its goals and objectives. Even outstanding organizational performance may be episodic and short-lived because it is an artifact of the specific configuration of internal and external environments within which the organization exists, rather than the result of an Intended Culture. The ability of an organization to change and adapt with conscious intention is the true test of the degree to which its culture is consciously chosen for specific ends.

Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture

The Breckenridge Institute has developed a portfolio of quantitative and qualitative organizational culture assessment tools that can be used to assess organizational performance and organizational culture. Cultural assessment tools like the Breckenridge Culture Indicator™ (BCI™) provide quantitative and qualitative data needed to focus on real business problems – issues that managers care about deeply. We believe that it’s a mistake to lead with cultural analysis and cultural change. Assessing and changing organizational culture is of little value unless it is linked to (and motivated by) one or more of the six interdependent dimensions of organizational life:

  • Generating and retaining revenue
  • The effective use and cost of labor as human capital
  • The effectiveness and non-labor related cost of operating an organization
  • Key performance indicators that measure an organization’s performance with high-precision
  • The identification and reduction of squandered time and energy
  • A focus on sustainability, creating value, and making long-term investments in human, material, and financial resources

If the activities associated with assessing and changing organizational culture cannot be meaningfully linked to one or more of these six dimensions, then they should probably not be done. Diagnosing and changing organizational culture for its own sake is an academic exercise that provides little or no value to organizations and the managers who lead them. But if an organization needs to develop a new strategy or strategic plan; improve its execution and day-to-day operations; implement new IT infrastructure; seamlessly integrate business systems; build bench-strength in leadership and management skills; or improve the decision-making and consensus process for the allocation of human, material, and financial resources, then understanding how its culture positively and negatively impacts these issues is not only value-added, it’s probably necessary. The key to Harnessing the Power of Culture™ is to focus organizational culture assessments on concrete, tangible business issues, not the study of organizational culture as an end in itself.

Transforming Organizational Culture into a Powerful Resource

The Breckenridge Institute’s approach to creating an Intended Culture will help you transform your organizational culture into a powerful resource that effectively performs day-to-day operations on autopilot; e.g., effectively and seamlessly without thinking about them. When done effectively, autopilot operations can be your greatest ally because they increase your ability to compete and achieve your goals. But in most cases the autopilot operations that typify an Unintended Culture are self-defeating because they perpetuate problems with work performance, communication, interpersonal conflict, and decision-making and then derail attempts to create positive change. This unique approach to creating an Intended Culture helps managers take ineffective operations off autopilot, reconfigure them, and then migrate them back to autopilot operations that produce the desired results. Understanding how these invisible forces actually work begins to transform “culture” into a more reliable resource that can be used to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives by Harnessing the Power of Culture.

Using Organizational Culture to Get the Desired Results

Once leaders and managers have learned and internalized the principles, practices, methodologies, and tools developed by the Breckenridge Institute, they will be able to intentionally create, manage, and (if necessary) destroy and reconstruct an Intended Culture that will produce the desired results within the context of an ever changing business environment. They will learn how to use their organization’s culture as a powerful resource that facilitates, rather than opposes, achieving organizational goals and objectives. Bottom Line: an Intended Culture is the key to becoming an Island of Excellence® in a sea of mediocrity.

Our Expertise in Organizational Culture

The Breckenridge Institute is a research and consulting firm that focuses on organization development and organizational culture with offices in Boulder, Colorado. We specialize in helping organizations identify and move beyond the impasses that keep them from getting the results they want. Since 1995, our staff of technical and business professionals has been providing the highest levels of service, competence, quality, and value to our clients using a portfolio of research-based methodologies and cultural assessment tools. Currently with 12 people on staff, the Breckenridge Institute has experience in the areas of high-tech, R&D, basic research, pharmaceuticals, health care, retail, commercial construction, and resort management, as well as government-funded research in the National Labs, and non-profit organizations. Many of the principles, practices, methodologies, and tools associated with our approach to organizational culture assessments are described in Mark Bodnarczuk’s book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible: A Guide to Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture.

For more information on the Breckenridge Institute’s approach to organizational culture, change and transformation contact ESC at 270-873-7433 or email.

View The Breckenridge Institute’s
Culture Talk – Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible.
his 21 minute video explores key questions about organizational culture and
how it powerfully affects day-to-day operations and the bottom-line in your organization.


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