Saturday, June 26, 2021

Why Is the Cultural Beast so Hard to Tame??

Culture is what has been said, or the thought of the world, if we could really change the culture, we could change the world.

Culture is the collective mindset, attitude, habit and corporate DNA. Most companies have trouble seeing their own culture as they are so immersed in it. Culture can lift their organization up to the next level of growth cycle or sink the business slowly. In fact, organizational culture could be one of the most invisible and intimidating factors to influence their organization’s future. 

Changing habits is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Besides dealing with hard business success factors effectively; organizational leaders should understand and read the business sentiment and ponder: What are the root causes to make the company fall, why is the cultural beast so hard to tame?

Culture eats strategy for breakfast: Culture is one of the most intangible and strongest fabric weaving inside human society and organization. Good culture lifts up an average strategy, and poor culture stifles change and even eats strategy for breakfast. No matter what your strategy is -to build up the brand, make a long term prosperity, cultivate the positive working environment, leverage the nature of Yin & Yang, nurture the Tao of discipline, negative culture could eat them all. Typically, strategy execution fails due to surprises and unknown/unforeseen factors such as culture that directly impact the business mentality and approach to frame and solve the variety of problems thoroughly. To dig through, cultural chasm happens in 21st century organization due to the command-control leadership style which is not compatible with today’s decentralized working environment; silo mentality which causes small thinking, hubris attitude to take more guts than data in decision-making, overly restrictive organizational hierarchy that slows down the speed of change, misinformation or unconventional wisdom which distracts or misleads business transformation, etc.

Since culture itself is the brand, the prediction, and the attitude, business management needs to make an objective assessment of the culture, and incorporate cultural requirements into the strategy management cycle. To recharge our energy and make our daily activities fresh and enforce knowledge workers’ collaboration, don’t let culture eat strategy for breakfast. Culture is in a state of flux and can transform to suit a new chosen strategy. But in practice, changing the culture to fit the strategy is tough because culture - as a corporate habit changes both slowly and reluctantly. Actually few strategies can wait for culture's evolutionary change. Still, it’s a worthy effort to make necessary changes to rejuvenate your organization. Culturally strong organizations will survive the storm better and will be prepared to execute strategies and business plans effectively.

Culture eats processes for lunch
: Processes underpin business capabilities; business capabilities underpin the organizational strategy. Statistically, about two thirds of change management projects don't work out, a similar percentage of business process management fail, and about three fourth of companies do not achieve the expected strategic goal even though they have sufficient information and scientific management discipline. Has the management paid enough attention to the invisible culture factor which perhaps eats the process for lunch and impedes business changes?

Culture is certainly part of the environment in which an organization operates, it represents the 'box' in which decisions are framed and the footprint the organization actions occur. So it impacts directly or indirectly on the decision process or overall business management effectiveness. The negative culture such as resist-to-change, bureaucracy can cause long term pain such as process inefficiency, application redundancy, structural inflexibility, incoherent capability, and ineffective leadership, etc. An innovative culture can lubricate rigid processes to encourage creativity; a culture of improvement enables the business to keep optimizing business processes from inside out operation driven to outside in people centric; a culture of change accelerates the business performance by tuning their key processes from static to dynamic; from fragile to resilient, etc. One of the most important, yet open secrets of many successful organizations is to nurture an "adaptability trait" in an organization's culture. Without this, an organization may sail or drown. Don’t let culture eat the process for lunch, insead, build systematic processes to implement a desired culture in pursuing "perfecting."

Culture eats talent for dinner: Culture is something a company does; it's the collective mindsets & character that are closer or further from an ideal. Nowadays, boundaries are breaking, and business is gaining a digital perspective. The cross-cultural workforce is the new order of the day. People are always the most important asset and capital investment in any organization before, today, and in the future. Unfortunately, culture keeps eating what it hurts, especially all those great talent ingredients such as imagination, innovation, learning capability, diversity, risk-awareness, sustainability, even including your vision and mission, etc.

Multi-generational workforces have a different working style and life priority, with dynamic team building and interdisciplinary management. 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 generally describe the "Behavior" rather than an underlying and in most cases unconscious value. Part of the digital transformation journey is to prepare people for getting digital ready psychologically and intellectually, and fine tune their culture through their belief system-the root, break down some conventional wisdom, reshape their thinking, update their knowledge, and generate great ideas that derive profitable actions, positive influence, and collective confidence.

Shape a digital culture so that employees are willing to give discretionary effort and always look for ways to improve their own and team performance. Culture change is critical to make a leap of digital transformation. Promoting a positive culture takes courage, persistence and methodology. Building a culture-savvy organization is important for the long term success of the business. To make it broader: Culture is what has been said, or the thought of the world, if we could really change the culture, we could change the world.


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