Friday, May 29, 2015

An Organization’s Culture is Extremely Difficult to Change. Why?

Thinking drives behavior which in turn drives results. Culture is the problem at mindset level.

Culture is often defined as “How the group of people thinking and do things here.” Getting all employees on the same line is always difficult because too many mindset are not willing to adapt and accept the reason to change the existing culture. Most want to stay in their established comfort zone. Much effort has gone into changing culture in organizations. For decades, practitioners have been trying various ways and means to achieve culture change. Similarly, decades of research and countless studies have produced millions of books, articles, etc. about culture change, from many perspectives, leading to many different ways of achieving it. An organization’s culture is extremely difficult to change, WHY?

The company has to have one common goal and all should work towards it: To create value for your customers, communication, setting targets, measuring these and leadership are key in the change process. The real company leaders have to lead the process since they can influence the employee. It is also important to remember that among the subgroups of corporate culture, that there are local and global aspects. Changing corporate culture should address not only the subgroups, but each singular value or behavior to be changed, or not changed. For example ethics, internal communications, punctuality, respect etc. Not to be forgotten is the need for empowerment so that the individuals in the organization believe that they can make enduring positive change.

Intercultural communication is the key. Understanding how cultures adapt to change is imperative. There are team, department, company, local, regional, national, cultural differences - for sure. But problems, uncertainties, fear and survival are fairly global -based, so why not get the basics (the 80 percent plus shared "standards") right before you focus on the more individual aspects? Doing that create a valuable shared global platform enabling economies of scale, shared communication, smaller accumulated costs on each area etc. and a much better chance of operating in the global village marked. Isn't that what almost of truly global company is trying to do? Think of how many companies are providing the same products and services and even the same global culture. Collaboration and partnership always starts where you have shared interests and then evolve slice by slice as you find more and more common grounds.

Being humans we should have one big advantage - knowing about our own nature. People have no problem with change! They have problems with uncertainty, risk and fear. If you know where you are in current situation, where you want to go in future situation, how to get from where you are to where you want to go ("travel" plan and its "obstacles as well as the benefits/gains of the "travel"), and then, most people actually accept or even prefer change. It's basic (reptile brain fear/survival) human nature which often is much less complicated than you wish to admit. Might you get unexpected benefits and successes if the effort associated with trying to change something, which is so fundamentally problematic, were redirected somewhere else? Perhaps something as simple as allowing more time for people to talk to each other might reap equal or greater rewards. People can be difficult, by nature or nurture, good leadership skills can be used to develop people within organizations to generate awareness and influences of the culture.

There are many different perspectives of culture are presented along with diverse ways and means of dealing with it. With all this effort, one might have thought that the problem of culture change would be reducing. One might also have thought by now we would have a clear and universally agreed means of measuring culture change and its success or otherwise. This isn't the case. The daily appearance of posts, articles and so on about culture change clearly demonstrates that it continues to be a problem and also the increasing diversity of views about how to deal with it. When the problem of culture change is raised, the response to the question is always very similar; many different perspectives are presented along with diverse ways and means of dealing with it. In these responses, there is a tendency towards diversity rather than consensus. Perhaps this indicates there is a problem with learning and practical application in relation to all these perspectives and approaches. 

Thinking drives behavior which in turn drives results. So prioritizing and investing in how people think about the future and why change is smart and right, remains a really good place to start, you could say that is a critical "upwards" place of culture influence.


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