For any organization undergoing far-reaching change—and in today’s climate, that probably includes your company—the lesson is the same: Clinging to cultural habits that become outmoded as a company grows and as markets change is a recipe for disaster. It can lead to misuse of talent, reward leadership styles that have become dysfunctional, and undermine
the company itself. Lehman became a prime example of this. Certainly, the firm could have
avoided many disastrous business bets. But at a more fundamental level, beyond faulty risk models and stereotypes about greedy Wall Streeters, the Lehman story illustrates the truth of a little-remarked phenomenon of organizational development: The very attributes of a strong corporate culture that underlie a company’s success often carry the seeds of its destruction.
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