Open dialog

Open dialog contains a selection of articles, white papers and discussion papers written by Dialog people which you may find of interest. You are able to subscribe to this page. We would like your feedback on any article. Please email us at

Open Dialog Article

Cultural Adaptability is Key

Open dialog article,
By John D’Hooghe, Executive Consultant, Dialog

Every organisation has its own unique history and organisational culture. When working with a new client one of the key success factors for Dialog consultants is the ability to understand and adapt to the culture of the client organisation.

This article discusses the wide differences in organisational culture and provides examples which demonstrate the adaptability of Dialog people and Dialog tools.

Organisational culture is defined as “the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organisation and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organisation” (Hill and Jones, 2001).

How do you Find Out what an Organisation’s Culture is?

Well, one simple approach is to ask. Some organisations make their culture overtly known. It may be stated in annual reports, or value statement documents or even posters on walls such as Flight Centre’s “10 Company Philosophies”. The philosophies cover:

  • Our People
  • Our Customer
  • Profit
  • Ownership
  • Incentives
  • Brightness of future
  • Our standard systems
  • Family, village, tribe
  • Taking responsibility
  • Egalitarianism and unity

Taglines and Mottos

Sometimes the company’s tagline or motto can point to a certain culture. Consider the following statements and the clues to what the culture may be like: “Win at all costs”, “Don’t be evil”, “Involved, Committed, Can Do, Always”.

Look and Listen

All too often the overt statements of culture do not really reflect the true essence of the organisational culture. The best approach is to look and listen. Observe people in the work environment. Listen to the way conversations, discussions and meetings are held. Note the amount and style of written communication (e.g. email, reports).

You may perceive that employees work in a collaborative and social style or you may see a very serious, driven and business focussed style.

Dialog consultants have worked in various organisations and have become adept at quickly assessing an organisation’s culture and adapting their style and methods to suit the organisation.

From One Organisation to Another

It is not uncommon for a Dialog consultant to work with one organisation that has a cultural bias towards low risk taking, “no bad news” tendency towards written deliberations leading to decisions and a long chain of command. Then, in the next assignment, work with an organisation that is more entrepreneurial and risk taking with a focus on delivering quickly to market and have strong views that positive consumer perception is important.


Two recent assignments by one Dialog project team illustrate the ability to mould methods and approaches to suit the organisational culture.

Queensland Health required the delivery of a large fixed-price software solution to a fixed legislative deadline. As a large, mature organisation, Queensland Health used a variety of project methodologies. Given the nature of the project and the history of some similar projects going over time and budget, Dialog implemented a full-scale project management set of procedures from its own SAGE methodology to manage the project. Once planned, the project stuck rigidly to the schedule. Extensive written communication was also provided. The end result was a project completed on time and budget providing the exact outcome Queensland Health was seeking. The project was awarded the Innovation award by the Institute of Project Management.

By comparison, a smaller government organisation had employed Dialog shortly after the QH success for a critical project. In this case, the culture of the organisation was less bureaucratic and based more on closer, informal communication. At this site, Dialog implemented enough of SAGE to ensure that, while all the standard project management principles were understood and in place, they were less formal and based on informal communications which suited the organisational culture.


In both projects, the same Dialog processes and people were used but Dialog adapted the methods to the client. The key to the success of this tailoring is the use of experienced Dialog people who have developed their skills over many years of working in a wide range of organisations in the private and public sectors. The internal networks provided by Dialog to support project managers also help in understanding how to gauge the culture of an organisation and to choose the most appropriate option for the project.

Our clients can be certain that Dialog can provide highly experienced consultants and more importantly, that they are able to understand and adapt to the client’s organisational culture.

Read about how Dialog has successfully worked with diverse organisations.

Reference this article: John D’Hooghe, Cultural Adaptability is Key (2012-04-27) Open Dialog - Dialog Information Technology <>

Learn more about Dialog Information Technology

I am looking for an experienced IT service provider.

Discover our Expertise

I am interested in joining Dialog Information Technology.

Careers Available

I would like to learn more about Dialog Information Technology.

Find out More
  • Involved
  • -
  • Committed
  • -
  • Can Do
  • -
  • Always