Psychology of culture change

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Psychology of culture change
David Bovis, Member, Business Consultant, United Kingdom

Overtly addressing people change before strategy and process focused change

For the last 35 yrs industry has been operating from within standard systems (like cost accounting and quality systems) rather than seeing them as a system that must serve our purposes, as 'people working together for a common goal', like any other.

Our logical systems can only deal with the 'tangible', yet our organisations react and perform relative to the intangible, at best, our logical systems only ever address half of the big picture, yet we make decisions, based on their logic for our entire organisation, often in direct opposition to our over-arching intent, sometimes overtly damaging the other (intangible with our current systems) 50% of the business.
This mindset drives often questionable decisions,
  • distancing suppliers from the OEM (increasing the 7 wastes) in pursuit of lower piece part prices,
  • stock reduction plans (cost down - with longer lead times from low cost economies) that inhibit the ability to react to customers, jeopardising reputations and future sales
  • and driving departmentalised internal conflict due to 'accounts driven' KPI's, that elicit behaviours and efforts that are 'assumed' to aligned to strategy, in isolated 'pockets' (kamikaze kaizen)

and these types of decisions are made, 'from within the system', from within the logic of financial management that has seen Tools and techniques applied in the vain hope it will influence Culture! (Which is rarely if ever a positive influence on culture).

i.e. Attitudes, beliefs and emotions that drive group responses to conditions are what I am suggesting constitutes 'culture' as I am using the word here.

When this approach fails to realise the original expectations (usually over 3-5 years), the next set of consultants come in to develop the 'Missing strategy', another 3-5yrs go by with little to no improvement to the performance of the organisation and the market of Change re-brands the same approach, to convince them the 'new tools' will work this time.

This 'Cycle of events' in change environments has been perpetuated for the last 35-40 yrs, since TPS was introduced as Quality Circles and as we have gone further down the logical road (away from the people aspect of change) with the evolution of Six Sigma from SPC, TOC from Pareto and various Strategic 'tools' like BSC, STRAP etc.

What I am interested in is reversing this approach. Dealing with the intangible 'Purpose', 'intent', 'decision making', 'mindset', and the EEE - emotional environmental experience, we subject our employees to (at the hands of our systems) that provoke them to unconsciously undermine and oppose the change 'the system' is assumed to help promote.

I am providing a course PCC that deals with the Psychology of Change in leadership, that then enables a psychologically congruent strategy to be set, which ensures the knowledge of the detail that enables, 'a no blame culture', 'ownership' and 'empowerment' exist, 'before' tools and techniques are applied to make change.

In this way, we are addressing foundational issues on which all other 'Tools and techniques' can stand, which requires a new language, hence, my models, systemic attribute reflection, BTFA, EEE, etc. which require explanation to help others see this 'foundation' in context.

Looking at this 'People system' which features in all aspects of any business, we address, Change and organisation, Communications and Skills, Decision making, Validation, ethics and responsibility, Finance, HR, Knowledge and intangibles, Leadership, program and project management, strategy, supply chain and quality, from 'Root cause'.

I'd be interested in being connected with anyone else who recognises the need to invert the standard approach to business and deal overtly with the 'People system', in a market 'flooded' with tools that all exclude the Psychology of Culture Change

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