Organization Savvy

Understanding culture is essential to fit in anywhere: when you are traveling, with your family, and where you work. Understanding and appreciating culture is important, because you do not want to unintentionally offend someone by over-explaining a task, asking about personal lives when it is not considered appropriate, or going straight to business and skipping informalities completely when it is expected to get to know each other before attending to tasks at hand. Understanding organizational culture is therefore important for every employee. However, creating a fostering a productive culture is the responsibility of the leaders.

There is a critical distinction between the culture and the climate of an organization. Culture refers to how employees feel they are expected to do things and behave. Climate is the causal factors of the culture. Another way of putting it is that culture reflects the shared values, beliefs, norms, and expectations; climate reflects the outcomes of the culture such as engagement, teamwork, and perceived quality of work. However, it is important to note that there are two levels of culture: the ideal culture, or what should be expected; and the current culture, or what is actually expected. If we compare the climate to the human body, climate is the pulse, temperature, and blood pressure. Culture would be the bigger medical issues such as flu or cancer. The ideal culture would be a cancer-free body, while the current culture might be a body with a cancerous tumor caused by the climate of smoking. This example shows that culture is harder to change than climate: it is easier to change someone’s blood pressure than to change their cancer status.

Climate can therefore also drive and change the culture. If you want to change something in the culture, you can start with changing the climate. Let’s take the following organization as an example in which the ideal culture is that team work is valued, but the current culture shows that competitiveness is valued. The causal climate factors are in the structure of performance reviews: only individual and competitive behavior is analyzed, but not team behavior. If we would thus change the structure of the performance review (climate) we could change the current culture (competitiveness) closer to the ideal culture (teamwork).

The Organizational Savvy course focuses on how you see the current culture of your organization. It organizes the culture in three different clusters: constructive, passive/defensive, and aggressive/defensive. Each of these clusters are then divided into four styles, allowing you to understand your culture in more detail. The course explains how to improve the culture of the organization based on the profile.

Understanding what is expected in your organization sets you up for professional success and allows you to be an active member of establishing effective organizational culture. Whether you are a leader, chair, employee, or staff member, taking proactive steps to understand and foster organizational success will set you and the rest of your team and organization up for prosperity.


-Lotte Mulder earned her Master’s of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013, where she focused on Leadership and Group Development. She’s currently working toward a PhD in Organizational Leadership. At ASCP, Lotte designs and facilitates the ASCP Leadership Institute, an online leadership certificate program. She has also built ASCP’s first patient ambassador program, called Patient Champions, which leverages patient stories as they relate to the value of the lab.


Organization Savvy is the core of high-performing organizations. It is a mixture of staff’s emotional intelligence, interpersonal relations, skills, self-awareness, competencies, and optimized organizational culture. With my experience in centralized laboratory services, improving quality in thirty laboratories with a wide variety of organizational cultures was a big challenge. To enhance the best practices and empower quality improvement projects, organizational savvy is required. The best tools to achieve this were creating an organizational influence map, building relationships with different laboratory staff, influencing people by turning the organization into learning atmosphere, and the most important, avoid negative players.

With my journey towards excellence, I had to communicate with different leadership styles. I had great outcomes with constructive style leaders, as they are task- and people-oriented, collaborative, achievers, humanistic, and encouraging. I had some difficult times with aggressive/defensive leaders who have some insecurities. I had to assure them that our journey towards excellence is to build people before building the organization. In addition, they had to realize our organizational objectives were in full alignment with their core values and career goals. I worked on improving my personal power by using self-awareness assessments and improving emotional intelligence. My skills and knowledge in Quality of Laboratory Medicine were good enough to build credibility inside the organization. My future goal is to increase my circle of influence and reduce my circle of concerns to achieve organizational savvy and hence, the organizational vision towards excellence.


Photo -Rana

-Dr. Rana Nabulsi has a PhD in Quality Management and a master’s degree in molecular genetics. She is currently the Head of Quality at Pathology and Genetics department at Dubai Health Authority and the Chair of Advisory Board at the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) in UAE. She is doing her fellow at the American Collage of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). She is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) by the National Association of Healthcare Quality (NAHQ)-US and certified for Green Belt -Six Sigma (SSGB) by the American Society of Quality (ASQ). Dr. Nabulsi has experience in leading more than twenty medical laboratories in achieving the College of American Pathologist (CAP), ISO 15189, and American Association of Blood Bank (AABB) accreditations. She is certified as lead auditor for ISO 9001, ISO 15189, ISO17025, and OHSAS 18001 management systems. Dr. Nabulsi is a certified EFQM Assessor, trainer and public speaker for local and International Healthcare conferences about healthcare quality, safety, and leadership.


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