Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Ultra-Modern BoDs Set Culture “Pathways” to Transformative Changes

 Culture change is possible but difficult, and it is a slow and complicated process. But it’s a pathway to transformative change and unlock business potential. 

It is a continuously changing world, and no organization can afford to stick to its old ways of doing things. Strategy guides change and culture is the pathway for change. BoDs as focused, clear-headed realists will need to take a few steps back trying to get the real picture of what happened, what are barriers to strategy execution, and how can they fine-tune and align the organization’s policy, procedure, and communication to build “digital-ready” cultures, support digital paradigm shift. 

Here is a set of inquiries that helps BoDs to clear their vision and drive transformative change seamlessly.

Is desired culture propagated intentionally by management: Every organization has a story: a set of beliefs, values, myths, history, and judgments about the internal workplace and the external environment around them. In the globalized business environment, very often people of various nations or cultures are in various facets/functions. Senior leadership teams such as BoDs need to make an objective assessment of their organizational culture maturity, and enthusiastically advocate a set of cohesive digital cultures such as solution driven culture, culture of accountability, culture of innovation, culture of learning, etc, as culture is a foundation to implement strategy effectively.

Corporate culture is the way we think and do things around the organization. Some insightful questions for BoDs to ask the leadership team during strategy development include: Is it the culture that can fulfill the business vision and accelerate strategy execution today? Or put simply, is it still helping the company grow and transform? Which core values you need to promote to propel the organization forward in line with the strategic ambitions? Are they different from today and if so what needs to change? What are the beliefs and unspoken rules that everybody in the company knows and shares? How does it drive organizational behaviors? Aligning a workforce toward intentional cultural shifts can be quite complex, understand the culture and its essential first.Just like changing personality, culture change is possible but difficult, and it is a slow and complicated process. But it’s a pathway to change and unlock business potential.

How in reality the organization behaves and acts and which to a varying degree can deviate from desired culture? Although a company may have its "own unique culture," there can be diverse and sometimes conflicting cultures that coexist due to sub divisional culture and different characteristics of the management team. The organizational culture may also have negative and positive aspects that can affect employees' own perceptions and identification with the organizational culture. Thus, those that have the most effective organizational culture are where the senior team really lives the vision, values, and ethos of the organization - and don't just pay lip-service to it. 

The “spirit” of the organization comes from the top. At the board level, in order to cultivate a solution-focused digital culture, assess where the organization is regarding the impending change, the discrepancy between current culture and the desired culture, are there incoherent conflicts, dissonance and downfalls. Does the organizations really encourage employees to step up and propose bold transformational change initiatives and then ask management to follow through? Does their company truly embrace openness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, respect for the value of people and adding value to the enterprises, etc. How to set a realistic timeline and some measurable outcomes for “hardening the soft”- culture change, and ultimately unlocking business performance.

How does policy affect organizational culture? Organizations need to do what their policies say or have the policies say what they do. The Corporate Board sets the tone for making good policies. In fact, culture is the policy. We have to shift gears and mindsets to see the culture of an organization as a collective whole living breathing thing, a human organic system composed of uniquely diverse people who have much to offer to grow and develop the culture. If not, then the policy is more than likely not needed. Culture is invisible, but tough. Avoid the pitfalls such as misleading simplistic views of corporate culture or the misinformation that the problems of the organization are. 

Often the "soft" culture is much more complex than the hard processes or technology, as problems with culture are driven by many elements than things floating on the surface. Focus on digging into the root cause and pay more attention to culture residue, not to waste energy on the wrong things that are contaminating and polluting the true culture. Applying the framework to the specific organizational culture requires leadership, trust, time and process, etc, to improve overall organizational maturity.  

Culture is like the “glue” that holds and binds an organization together. Actual culture is a function of leadership, starting at the top. The commitment is that we are all in this together and have our passions focused on a goal with a cohesive leadership to build a high performance culture. Leaders who work with transformational principles can develop an organizational culture that is synergistic and highly productive. From boardroom to coffee room, in order to move up to the next level of organizational maturity, the culture needs to be changed as well to adapt to the emerging digital trend and pulling strategy execution towards the right decision.


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