Changing Organization Cultures: What is the Critical Element to Start?

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Changing Organization Cultures: What is the Critical Element to Start?
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
When you study the political culture of a country for instance, USSR from Tsarist Russia it took a revolution to change a culture. The only thing that revolutionaries forget is the innate culture of people. It never goes away completely.
Same with corporate culture. If the change causes overall improvement for the majority, then the culture change will become the more permanent culture. If over time the changed culture becomes just as bad as the previous, then a new revolution will come and make another adjustment.
Some political idealogs will use subtle changes in making the culture change more tolerable to the masses. That takes lots of time and patience, and most don't want to take the time.

The Practical Side of Organization Culture
Kuiper, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
On the practical side, I find it useful to have an explicit list of behavioural values, communicate and discuss these with employees and amend them if needed. Then, through 360 degree appraisal and performance coaching, check and reward employees who live up to the values and have tough talks with those who don't. That is all you have to do but be prepared to hold the course for a couple of years.

Shared Vision
Nokuthula Khumalo, Manager, South Africa, Member
A shared vision is what makes changing organizational culture easy. If people within an organisation are operating on different wavelengths, it will be very difficult to change the culture without experiencing the challenges that come with change.

Critical Element to Start in Changing Organization Cultures
Wiegmans, Business Consultant, Netherlands, Member
Any culture change program starts with creating, or already heaving, an outside 'enemy'. No organism, no man, no group, no organisation will find internal motives for change.
Then the next 4 areas have to be addressed:
1. Role model
2. Story telling, why this change is important
3. Supporting change systems and structures
4. Change skills and believe systems by training.

What is the Critical Element to Start?
Nokuthula Khumalo, Manager, South Africa, Member
@Wiegmans : People make or brake organisations as much as the companies' customer base is constituted by people. It is therefore important that they are engaged at both employee and customer levels hence I would recommend an external change agent so that the process is as objective as possible.
I agree with you though training does not guarantee you the change you want to see, people are social beings and maybe psychological conditioning could be more appropriate.

Psychological Conditioning
Wiegmans, Business Consultant, Netherlands, Member
An organization culture exist of shared beliefs, shared heroes, shared values. When you first start in a new organisation, you are subject to psychological conditioning, you will be teached 'how we do things here'. If you want to change a system, it is wise to start with changing these shared collective thoughts, as you say: psychological conditioning.

Critical Element to Start Organizational Change
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Yes it's challenging and may be hard, but if you truly believe in the worth of the change and you know how to show your workers the benefit to the change and are consistently showing how the change can work then you are well on your way to making the change.

Allemeersch Johan
I consider language or wording as important as all remarks above.
I mean we need to communicate the existing situation, the vision, mission and goals in a clear way, so as that no one can understand it differently.
I bet that if I ask 10 experts to explain me a change for manufacturing excellence, I will probably get 5 or more different aspects and focuses. Only when we can visualise in terms of our senses, how it feels / tastes/ sounds / feels / and how the environment would look like and have a clear common understanding, it will be easier to start organisational change. Also a picture can tell more.
Clear consistency of this visualised goal supported with behavioural capabilities and values will speed up the process..
Positive leadership and rewarding"good" behaviour will anchor the change.

The Right Words on the Right Medium
Nokuthula Khumalo, Manager, South Africa, Member
This is a very important factor in communicating with the employees and all other stakeholders and putting the right words on the right medium goes a long way in getting the messages across.

Wording and Word of Mouth
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Exactly--the person experiences the benefit, the next person says " this change is for xxtt" the first worker may say, " I did it and it really helped me..., and it wasn't that hard..." that word of mouth spread around your work areas will allow the barriers to slowly fall down and others will work together on showing how this change may benefit. Now the opposite is true if change is made just for change sake--busywork--or just for some one's project etc.
That will backfire on you. They may implement the change for a while but if it is not a good change it will slowly go back to the way it was before. Sometimes that should tell people something. You can try some changes but after trying and it doesn't work, take your time before doing something else.

Changing Cultures of an Organization: Intent
Olga Aros, Consultant, United States, Member
Organizations change in order to continue to survive. Defining the intent so others understand the (reasons for the) change is critical to those who must lead the organizational change.
Once defined, there will be collateral damage and this is what must be managed to avoid a meltdown.
But the intent, carefully calculated, planned and managed will bring the intended results in time.

Analysis of Rituals, Myths and Routines
Horacio Cortese, Consultant, Argentina, Member
To change an individual mindset is already difficult, even more so is to change the collective mindset. Sometimes in our interventions we achieve good results. First of all we have to analyse the rituals and myths of the culture of organization and their presence in the routines.
The analysis of routinization is key and finding out the collective mindset. So the only way is to analyze the routines that inhibit the change and co-create new routines that let the members stabilize the theory in use that they want.

Starting Organizational Changes
Olga Aros, Consultant, United States, Member
Change is ever constant, but necessary if an organization is to grow. Defining why change is necessary and setting a new direction for all to follow is easier, when employees understand how all will benefit from the change.
Those who do not change their direction will become "dinosaurs" in the new cultural environment and be gradually eliminated. Those who promote change will reap the rewards.
All must understand this in order to survive within the new corporate culture. Behaviors and new rules are then rewarded and enforced as part of the change process.

Changing Organizational Culture
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
@Horacio Cortese: I agree-knowing your employees, their established work routines and the flow of work, systems in place must be evaluated and key employees should be part of the decision making. A bottom-up approach.
Not from top down. That top down management style, these days, should only be used in case of urgent situations. Communication is key in the change process, if it is to be successful. Engaging employees in the process is almost a surefire way of implementing changes.

Four Dimensions of Culture
Jacqueline Gargiulo, United States, Member
My director and I have studied and are communicating to our organization about the four dimensions of organizational culture - all equally important, none stands on its own, and they have different effects on the different areas of the business. Many are touched on here. Check out work by Caroline J. Fisher and Denison. We have customized the Denison Culture Model to our environment, as we all must, to: direction & intent, responsiveness, engagement and consistency.

Caution with Picking One Element
It’s true that you need to start somewhere if you are considering to change the culture of an organization. That's just a practical fact.
But what is important is that you should never embark on such a complex undertaking before you have considered and addressed ALL elements in DEPTH.
Starting without thinking over and carefully planning for all variables is a guarantee for a failure that will be costly and might even put your entire firm at risk.

Starting Changing Organization Cultures with Heart of Delivery Mechanism
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
If we consider the organization’s delivery system as a living entity, then it is best to start with the heart. The heart is comprising of the values and the spirit behind the values. If you start with the heart, these become the fulcrum on which the entire delivery mechanism is going to rest.

A MIssion Worth to Pursue to Create MotivAction
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
Start articulating, and then comunicating a MISSION WORTH TO PURSUE to create MotivAction (Yes Motive to Action). I.e., in a bearings manufacturing company wich needs a cultural change to cope with international competition: “We are constructing a new Mexico in a global economy” (More than: “We make bearings”).

Begin Culture Change with the Stakeholders
Pauline Oruya, Manager, Kenya, Member
I would first bring all the stakeholders around a table and conduct a SWOT analysis of the organization. I would expect clear comments on what we need to change for the better and recommendations on the best way forward.
This way, we would all be involved from the very beginning, own the change and be involved in the implementation. We would then live the change, understanding where it all begun.

How to Get Ready for Culture Change. An Outline,
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
People like change that is personally advantageous to them.
So think over how the current culture is disadvantageous? How should it be? What are/should be our values-principles?
Collect responses (in mixed groups, not teams) in a visible form (e.g. Metaplan*).
Mixed groups to: check understanding & acceptance of the desired culture, identify non-acceptance concerns, generate ideas to overcome them.
Publish an implementation action plan.
Work teams assess the plan, identify potential problems and produce ideas to overcome them.
Revise the plan and publish.
Work teams re-assess the plan, identify potential problems and produce ideas to overcome them
‘Unit’ representatives bring responses to a workshop and revise the plan.
Re-publish the plan with feedback requirement to show that everyone knows, understands and accepts the plan and what it is aiming to achieve.
Publish the feedback.
Start your project (or not).
[*Metaplan is a process for obtaining ideas/information that is particularly suitable for emotional situations].

Start Culture Process with Mission Statement
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
George Marshall introduced a philosophy of cultural enrichment in the Army in 1942 that continues to this day. Cultural change is not a destination but a state of being and subject to the on-going processes of natural law and the community processes of systemic self-awareness, and the systematic evaluation and purposeful adjustment of sustained double-loop learning.
To this end, the narrative arc extends over generations and needs to be consolidated, structurally, in the single point of origin of executive leadership and reflected throughout the various subordinate leadership echlons of the community.
For example, the Praetorian Guard provided these executive structures for the Roman legions and the centurions the subordinate community structures, both of which represented constancy of purpose. And Deming discovered in Japan that he had to create the community structures of organized labor to ensure the constancy of purpose for his Quality Assurance.
My point is that the structures and processes of process theology are eternal and that's why revisiting the Instrumental Mission Statement (or creating one) is, for me, the essential point of departure in ANY transformation process.

Values and Priority of Values
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
To me change at heart (values and spirit behind the values) level is most important.
However, with a changing context the priority of values also need to be given due consideration I suppose.
For example during the industrial revolution, being punctual and available on scheduled time to perform the mechanical work is important. However, now as more and more mechanical work has been automated, is it important to have all the people involved in the delivery mechanism to be available at same place and same time? With the changed context, if creativity is the value that needs to be delivered with priority, then the time a person becomes more engaged is more important than physical assembly at a schedule time.
So with changing times and context, the priority of values that need to be addressed must also change.

Start with Values, Then Change the Team
Alan Power, Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
Based on my personal experience of setting up a new company: It seemed to me that, as general manager/leader, I need to do things my way. I'm not an autocrat but it is my belief that the values should not be decided by a group or a committee, they have to be my values and anyone who works in the company needs to comply with those values, i.e. all their actions are to be executed in 'my name,' on my delegated authority, so they need to have guidance from me about how I would behave in a given situation because that's how I expect them to behave.
To make the point my management team had to commit or go - and some did go. With regard to the staff, the recruitment process made reference to the company values in recruitment adverts and throughout the on-boarding process. To emphasise the point I spoke to every new member of staff during their first day induction process so I could explain my values. From my point of view it worked, i.e. I got the culture I wanted!

Reasons for Changing a Culture
Tim Dibble, Project Manager, United States, Member
Organizations change cultures for a variety of reasons:
- An EMERGENCY or major challenge to business will often engender a rapid change in response to the threat.
- A major shift in LEADERSHIP causes a change in culture as the status quo adjusts to a new level.
- DRIFTING CHANGE occurs as well. When an organization has been successful for a long time, it fails to see the drift in its status and performance and often goes to great lengths to ignore the issue. GE and ENRON are two examples of this last category.

Purposeful shift in leadership is probably the hardest, for the status quo tends to find its own level and absorb the pushes from leadership. While communication of why the shift is important, unless the masses get feel the pressure of the why, they are likely to nod, do the paperwork and continue with their lives. Many a change initiative dies on the "Flavor of the Month" tree, where the investment in change is overcome by the adverse performance on the quarterly bonus.

Where to Begin when Changing an EXISTING Organization Culture
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Alan Power: You are right to say that the best thing you can do is - if you start and set up a new company - to get your values, people and culture right from the beginning. Especially the first few employees are nothing less than crucial. If you make a mistake here you will pay and keep on paying for that mistake for a long time…
However, although your point is valid, the situation we're discussing here is where to get started when we need to change an EXISTING culture of an existing company. That is probably even harder than creating a new one.

Changing Organizational Culture
Rajesh Sharma, Manager, India, Member
To ensure your decisions and actions are ethical you need to check their "rightness" before implementing them. And that goes for you, as well as your team members.

Avoid Buzzword Bingo in Changing Organization Cultures
Matthias Bittrich, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
Thank you in advance. "customer first" "we go the extra mile" bla bla bla...
No one in your company, I repeat: NO ONE is interested in the culture guiding principles of your top management.
All employees ask only one single question: "what is in for me?" - as nearly every human does, always and everywhere.
As a consequence, I think having good, able, convincing (not: manipulating), thinking team with competent department leaders is the main key you need for a working business culture.
If your organization does not have them - forget it. You are then one of the victims of the Gallup studies which justifiably show the wretched results for executives.

Build up a Dream Team and Culture from Scratch
Matthias Bittrich, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
@Jaap de Jonge: Your arguments are true 😃. One should build up a dream team when you start a business.
But: Sooner or later experts will join your team: HR, controlling, and so on.
And now the chance is high that some of those persons will not fit to your culture and dream team anymore. Your team now becomes... a group only. Like all those groups worldwide, small or huge.

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