Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to “Harden” the Soft Business Element Like Culture


One of the formulas to build a successful business is to nurture an "adaptability trait" in an organization's culture.

Culture is better defined by the "collective mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors of people in an organization. There is no question that culture can make or break an organization. However, many leaders fail to realize that culture will "happen" whether they understand it or not. So it's better to be deliberate about it. What are the principles your organization believes will make it successful? Where does one start with the importance of corporate culture? Who are the stewards of corporate culture, and how can you harden the soft element like culture to make it more visible and manage it more effectively?


Most companies have trouble seeing their own culture as they are so immersed in it. It's terribly important to step back and evaluate if you're where you want to be. Culturally strong organizations will survive the storm better and will be prepared to execute strategies and business plans effectively. However, such culture must evolve with times and change in business scenario. It is a continuously changing world, and no organization can afford to stick to its old ways of doing things. The fine principles of integrity, corporate governance, and other related good practices should never be thrown away with the cultural change. Increasing competition may also demand some cultural changes where rigid practices may have to give way to flexibility in the manner of carrying out business. Otherwise, the business may be lost to competitors that have dynamic and more flexible business processes. A culture change will become imperative as the drive for revenue becomes a key factor in sustainability. Some of the old ways of doing things will give way to new behavioral tendencies that can create the right environment for business to thrive. The organization will lose out if old cultures of complacency do not give way to good business behavior that will attract potential customers. Change is the only constant. Corporate culture needs to be reviewed and fine tuned to remain agile and respond to the needs of the marketplace. When you're sailing in the sea, you are not in a position to control the winds or the waves, but you surely can adjust your sails and load balance to head in the right direction. It only increases your chances of success. If an organization's culture does not adapt to changing business environment around itself continuously, it's very unlikely it would sail towards its intended business objectives as a destination.


Top business executives should work closely with HR to drive company’s culture transformation: HR should own continual assessment on whether the culture is suitable to support achievement of corporate initiatives. If it isn't - then HR should counsel executives in the hurdles the culture is creating and obtain buy-in on strategies to enact cultural change via awareness, communication, monitoring, and ongoing assessment, What practices need to stop? What do processes need to be enacted? What would the ideal culture be? By visioning and taking ownership of culture, HR can always be facilitating strategic plan success. Cultural change is a byproduct of how we as an organization interact. Often what we say and what we do are two different things, and that caused cultural dissonance. HR can assess, counsel, drive and sustain corporate culture yet rarely does so. Take a close look at your people and find out if they are on the same page. If yes, celebrate it. Maintain it. Do everything it takes to keep it. If not, then make a conscious effort to align it. It won't happen overnight, but it is worth the effort. Boundaries are breaking, and business is gaining a global perspective. The cross-cultural workforce is the new order of the day. Globalization has meant that organizations today are not just multi-national companies, but truly global businesses with strategic coherence and culture inclusiveness. It is not enough to align the culture to the employees alone. It is equally important to align the Market Culture as well. This varies from region to region. Certain key elements of any "culture" are basically unchangeable.

What gets measured, gets done. Organizations are created and exist to deliver and execute plans to meet customer needs. All changes in management processes and philosophy are to facilitating, executing and delivering products, projects, and services effectively. The Law of Entropy is just as true in the business world as it is in physics. In very simple terms, everything proceeds from a state of order to a state of disorder without intervention. Without a periodic review of any strategic pursuit including culture factor, it will come undone! The ownership structure of a company naturally affects and facilitates culture change. Of course, a culture change will become imperative as the drive for revenue becomes a key factor in sustainability. The organization will definitely lose out if old cultures of complacency do not give way to smart business ethic and behavior that will attract potential customers. Traditional culture assessments, unfortunately, are not very good in dealing with it: they generally describe the "Behavior" rather than an underlying and in most cases unconscious value behind it. There are ways of finding it out, but since few practitioners are aware of it, they are rarely used. A next evolutionary step from an annual cultural assessment would be to identify KPIs for cultural health and bake measurement and reaction to them into the operating system. Not only does this increased visibility, but it removes the stigma of cultural considerations as "soft."


It is a continuously changing world, and no organization can afford to stick to its old ways of doing things. Increasing competition may also demand some cultural changes where rigid practices may have to give way to flexibility in the manner of carrying out business. Otherwise, customers may be lost to competitors that have dynamic and more flexible business cultures and processes. Truly speaking, one of the most important, yet open secret, of many successful organizations is to nurture an "adaptability trait" in an organization's culture. Without this, an organization may sail or drown, but surely not predict hitting the business objectives effectively. The fine principles of integrity, corporate governance, and other related good practices should never be thrown away with the cultural change.






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