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DESINST 221: Designing Organizational Culture

From COVID-19 to racial injustice, lack of diversity to economic inequality, our current state of unsettledness makes the importance of organizational culture clear while demanding a proactive reworking of these cultures to respond to the needs of these times. Ann Swidler's seminal work on culture* (1986) states that people use culture as a toolkit in unsettling times as a way to cope with change. Inside this toolkit, there are culture practices, including organizational habits, routines, rituals, and stories, which help run meetings, work processes, and human relationships. This class will tackle how organizations can build strong, human-centered cultures to address the urgent challenges of our times. The class will combine two areas: organizational culture and human-centered design. It starts with the premise that an organization's culture is shaped not only by executives, and managers, but also individual employees. Students will learn a holistic, participatory approach to culture-making, by covering both top-down and bottom-up initiatives to improve culture. This course's format is based on understanding and internalizing theory, by applying its key concepts to reflection exercises, and design projects. In this class, students will first survey theories, methods, and case studies to learn how organizational culture is built and changed. They will then reflect on these theories and methods. Then they will use a human centered, iterative design process to build an understanding of organizational culture through group projects throughout the semester. on burning topics of current organizational culture, including high-performance, creativity, equity, diversity, and wellbeing.
Last offered: Autumn 2021 | Units: 3
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