“The hardest part of a business transformation is changing the culture – the mindset and instincts of the people in the company. “
“In the end, management doesn’t change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture.”
Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM
These two quotes tell it all – for culture to change and remain changed it needs the entire workforce to be involved so that they can take ownership.
Change of any kind has some basic rules that lay the foundations for success:
• Change relies upon people wanting to change.
• Those impacted by the change must be included in the decision-making processes. Even if they don’t want to change at first inclusion can lead to understanding then to ownership.
• Communicate everything. Bad news is better than no news! Don’t tell people what is going on and they will make it up. And what they make up will be far worse!
• Select ‘Champions’ that really believe in the change. They can keep it going even after the change project programme is complete. Mick Cope refers to ‘stickability’ through the use of change champions in his excellent book ‘The 7 C’s of Change’.
The first two key stages are to:
1. Have a destination in mind. All screen writers will tell you that the ending is where you start.
2. Understand exactly where you are – not just the symptoms if there are any! Even if change is required to move to the next stage in the development of your organisation and everything is going swimmingly anyway you need to understand what makes it tick.
The analogy with a screenwriter and a film is a good one.
You have a hero (your organisation) that needs to move towards the vision (new culture). But there will be conflict on the way. The screenwriter puts that conflict in the way of the hero – you have to discover what conflict presently exists and you need to plan to deal with the conflict that can occur.
More on ‘sticky’ cultural change can be found at http://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks/ar/1