A pattern of shared assumptions that groups have learned as they solve problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough in the past to be considered valid and therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to PERCEIVE, THINK and FEEL – Edgar Schein

Culture evolves over time, driven by both external influences and internal dynamics. It’s important to explore the factors driving these changes. Understanding the why and the triggers that made culture evolve can tell a great deal about the people experiencing that culture.

Culture manifests itself in various ways, including tangible aspects like clothing and symbols, and intangible elements such as values and underlying assumptions.

Schein categorizes culture into three levels: visible artifacts, espoused values, and deeply embedded assumptions, highlighting the complexity of cultural evolution and its physical and philosophical expressions.

For Schein’s three levels of culture:

  1. Artifacts: These are the visible structures, processes, and languages in an organization. An example would be the design and layout of a company’s office space or its dress code.

  2. Espoused Values: These represent the organization’s stated values and rules of behavior. For example, a company’s commitment to sustainability or diversity expressed in its mission statement.

  3. Underlying Assumptions: These are unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. An example might be the deep belief in the company that customer satisfaction is paramount, influencing all decisions and actions.