Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 60 Cultural Change That Sticks

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Need to build on what is already working

Based upon the realisation that cultural inclinations are well entrenched, for good or bad. Thus need to build on the positive aspects of the culture to offset the negative aspects

To understand an organisation's culture, we need to involve staff and understand their perspectives on planning, design, execution of the desired changes, etc. Most important staff are those who are the influencers, ie

"are well connected, sensitive to the company's culture and widely respected ... who could offer invaluable perspectives on the cultural situation, regardless of their level in the hierarchy"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

These staff can provide invaluable insight. Furthermore, senior management needs to establish a rapport with these people and use them to disseminate the new message to the rest of the organisation (formally and informally)

Start with small but significant behavioural changes that will revitalize a culture while preserving and championing its strengths. This is more effective than attempting a wholesale change. Remember

"it takes years to alter how people think, feel and behave"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

Cultures are not static, they evolve over time. Thus it is best to work with and within them, rather than fight them

Five principles

1. Match strategy with culture

Too often strategy imposed from above is at odds with the ingrained cultural practices and attitudes. Strategy's effectiveness depends on its cultural alignment. Remember that culture trumps strategy every time.

Need to ask the question: . Why do we want to change a culture. Many times the new cultural straits like collaboration, innovation, meritocracy, etc are too vague and/or take too long to tackle. But they sound great!!!!!

2. Focus on a few critical shifts in behaviour

As change is hard, you need to choose where to start carefully.

Need to observe the current organisational behaviours; which behaviours would you need to modify or 'cut out' to achieve the preferred objectives; which new behaviours do you need to introduce. For example, increase in customer service - how would you treat customers differently?

The decline of Arthur Andersen (one of the world's top auditing and professional service firms) started well before Enron's collapse. There was

"a creeping cultural erosion that had begun decades before the Enron debacle"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

For example, in the 1950s, the focus was changed from quality and integrity to beating other firms' revenue numbers and market position, and the firm abandoned practices geared towards professional excellence. Each new measure made it easier to compromise the firm's values and to ignore warning signs, like the 1993 bankruptcy of Four Seasons Nursing Centers of America in which Andersen as auditor was indicted.

Need to understand the behaviours, interactions, etc in the organisation such as how are staff evaluated, how are difficult issues raised, how are potential problems handled, how do other staff react when they see staff acting differently or incorrectly, etc

When choosing priorities, need to discuss with 'movers & shapers' about which current behaviours need to re-enforced or changed. The behaviours for focus can be small but need to be widely recognized and likely to be copied. Also, staff will find additional ways to re-enforce the few key behaviours

3. Honour the strengths of your existing culture

Should not dwell on negative traits of current culture. Find the strengths of a culture, especially ways to demonstrate the relevance of original values like customer service, innovations, etc.

Need to share stories that illustrate the importance of the values, ie

"acknowledging the existing culture's assets will also make major change feel less like a top-down imposition and more a shared evolution"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

Using surveys, interviews, observations, etc that identifies strengths, can clarify weaknesses like passive-aggressive behaviour, inconclusive decision-making, pervasive organisational silos, etc

Most staff want to help. This resource is usually untapped!!!! Remember: most organisations have pockets of activity where staff are already exhibiting the desired behaviour

4. Integrate formal and informal intervention

When introducing the new behaviours, use both the formal approach (new rules, metrics, incentives, reporting lines, decision making, processes systems, etc) with informal approach (networking, communities of interest, ad hoc conversations, peer interaction, etc).

Mechanisms for getting the most from your culture (formal and informal) include



. Reporting structure

. Decision-making (rules & regulations)

. Business processes & policies

. Organisational development programs (training & leadership)

. Performance management

. Compensation & rewards

. Internal communications

. Councils & c'tees

. Organisational events

. Behaviour modeling by senior leaders

. Meaningful manager-staff connections

. Internal, cross organisational networks

. Ad hoc gatherings

. Peer-to-peer interactions & storytelling

. Communities of interest

. Engagement of influencers

. Changes to physical plant, resources & aesthetics

. Social visits

. Impromptu telephone discussions & email exchanges

Any intervention needs to tap into 2 areas, ie

i) Emotional level (includes altruism, pride, attitude to work, etc)

ii) Rational self-interest (includes financial, position, recognition, etc)

Some important questions around values include

"what they were, what they should be, why many of them were no longer being 'lived', what was needed to happen to resurrect them, and what leadership behaviours would ensure the right employee behaviours"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

5. Measure and monitor cultural evolution

Need to continually monitor and evaluate at all stages. Rigorous measurement helps identify any backsliding, correct direction where needed, demonstrate tangible areas of improvement, etc. This will keep positive momentum

Key areas to focus on

i) Business performance

"Are key performance indicators improving? Are relevant growth targets being reached more frequently? What is happening with less obvious indicators, such as local sales improvements or decreases in customer complaints"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

ii) Critical behaviours

"Have enough people at multiple levels started to exhibit the few behaviours that matter most"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

iii) Milestones - have specific intervention milestones being reached?

Underlying beliefs, feelings and mind-sets . are they moving in the right directions? Remember that

i) this area is usually the slowest to improve

ii) most people will change their behaviours once results that matter have been validated

iii) you get what you measure. Measurement needs to be approached correctly, otherwise it can become cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive

Culture should become an accelerator and energizer, not an excuse or diversion. Culture intervention should be an early priority

In summary

"Targeted and integrated cultural interventions, designed around changing a few critical behaviours at a time, can also energise and engage your most talented people and enable them to collaborate more effectively and efficiently ... because deeply embedded cultures change slowly over time, working with and within the culture is the best approach"

Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012

(source: Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012)


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