Thursday, October 21, 2021


Culture change is tough, but it is worth the effort.

Culture is collective mindset and behavior. Culture of innovation is a collective mindset and a prerequisite to run a sustainable business these days. Changing the culture is the mindset, although you can’t impose the desired culture to your organization, surely you can apply a clear logic to diagnose and fix culture related problems, following with the principles and practices to understand different cultures, transform your culture by pushing the "right or positive buttons."

Analysis: Organizational culture is often at the root of ineffectiveness and inefficiency you have observed. The objective culture assessment is hard because culture is too complex and invisible, there are varying elements that influence collective attitude and behavior of people. 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 mind behind it. Metaphorically, corporate culture is like the soil that nurtures the business growth from people, process and structural perspective. Thus, you can compare the importance of organizational culture assessment to a soil analysis. You wouldn't plant seeds of a new species without checking whether they are adapted to the soil and climate conditions.

One part of the assessment is to get employees to identify what the ideal culture would look like and the instrument captures the current culture. There are stereotyping and elements of ethnocentric culture as well as there is also subculture. Some instruments assess culture from a values perspective. Others assess culture by behaviors. In the end, it comes down to which perspective you wish to take, values, behaviors or underlying assumptions. From a behavior perspective, culture can be categorized into constructive, passive-aggressive, passive defensive and assigns behaviors to each of these categories. From a multifaceted value perspective, culture can be categorized into innovative culture, people-centric culture, culture of quality, etc.

Change What: Behind every problem is a relationship dynamic out of alignment. A comprehensive culture diagnosis is important. However, data does not give you the full insight and understanding of the true nature of a culture problem; understanding human dynamics, systems and relationships does. People need to identify what needs to be changed, and why it needs to be changed. People centric culture change is imperative. Organizations should spend time on finding ways to value their most important assets -people, this exercise will lead to a deeper understanding of attitude, behaviors that contribute value, as well as what knowledge is key and which processes are invaluable or redundant.

Different teams perhaps shape their culture to get things done in different styles. The top leadership needs to set the tone for culture change. It can enable culture change along with the management at the different levels of the organizational hierarchy. It can, of course, influence the thinking on what culture would give best results for the company. It can help to create a vocabulary around the culture and get employees to understand. It can come with programs that can reinforce the culture. Culture visibility is really important for teams as every member is always aware of how the whole process is going on, what business culture encourages them to do, and what results have already been achieved.

Change How:
Culture change is like any other change, sometimes it is welcome, but oftentimes it is not, by people in the organization. For example, a high avoidance culture is hard to change because the very behaviors that need to change, the avoidance behaviors, generate avoidance of changing them. It’s critical to determine the ways and means of effecting culture change; small step/success/reinforcement approach; identify dependencies and conflicts, etc. Technically, developing and adapting learning and continuous improvement culture involves gathering data, doing analysis, defining areas to be improved, developing training and coaching programs, and building measurement scale for the improvement. Wholeness of culture refinement means the scientific belief in an object being whole-the conceptual methodology outlined a brief step-wise approach.

Leadership sets the tone for culture change; the management optimizes the process for cultural change. The high-mature management team encompasses the ability to address the systems, processes and the human element, recognizes the importance of the human element/capital, and they are their most valuable asset for leading cultural changes. They can engage the masses for overall organizational effectiveness, thereby creating a workplace culture and climate that is conducive to shared decision-making, collaboration, innovation, employee buy-in, organizational change, etc., which in essence empowers, impacts and improves the organization's bottom line.

Change When: Culture brings speed to market, competitive advantage and defines your brand. When culture turns to be the laggard of business progress, it’s time to change. The good moment to change is when the top senses the urgency and the bottom feels the pain, and change inertia is minimized via common understanding about the necessity and imperatives of changes. To run a highly responsive and adaptive organization, the democratic processes will overtake hierarchical control, and that flexible culture will become a fundamental organizational asset.

Change becomes the new normal and the healthy habit. Culture change is tricky because it is like changing the corporate habit and takes time and effort to shape it. When organizations are ready for kicking off the transformative business effort, it’s the time to accelerate culture change. When the strategy management gets stuck, culture changes are often inevitable; when people start playing the system, rather than focus on solving problems, culture needs to be changed. It’s important to build a step-by-step plan and roadmap for implementing and realizing culture change.

Change Who
: We are what we think, the quality of a person is often decided by the quality of his/her thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. People are at the center of culture change. The right people with high professionalism make a positive influence on corporate culture and bring wisdom to the workplace. Culture change is both a process and a practice. If there is a framework or model of culture you use to promote, perhaps it is an oversimplification: ask the staff and the other stakeholders, you need to involve the employees in the solution, rather than "lock yourself in an executive suite."

Identify culture-related conflicts/problems, and causes of conflicts/problems. Applying effective tools with the idealization feature allows the culture change team to solicit ideas on general or specific culture improvement issues; have the employees vote and comment on the ideas they like the best, and then provides transparency through the culture planning and change process by tracking which ideas have been accepted and their status, etc.

Culture change is tough, but it is worth the effort. A too weak culture affects the ability to walk in one direction and fill in the gaps when formal artifacts such as strategy, processes and org charts are not good enough. A strong culture should have the very characteristics of inclusiveness, innovation, learning agile, people centricity etc. If culture becomes the very obstacle for strategy management or turns out to be the very cause of change inertia, that must change, and it is changeable.


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