"Culture eats strategy for breakfast" - Peter Drucker
Develop a High Performing Culture
Sometimes, developing a business strategy, then developing leaders and teams to support that strategy is not enough. That's when you realise your entire organization needs to reshape its culture.
Your organizational culture is comprised of many moving parts, all forged together over time to get you to where you are now. It is a powerful set of inter-related forces that will always resist being changed.
The key to changing your culture is to engage the forces that shaped it in the first place, and work with those forces to change it from the inside.
The Forces That Shape Your Organizational Culture
There are many forces that shape your organizational culture. These forces combine into a system and sub-systems of shared beliefs, values, and assumptions that shape, direct and reward or punish day to day behaviours. When you identify those forces, you then need to work with them and not against them to evolve a new, more desirable culture. This takes time, and can not be rushed.
The good news is that these shared beliefs, values and assumptions can be readily observed in day to day interactions. This is where the power resides. Identifying where the power in a culture resides is essential if you are to harness it to help the culture willingly evolve into one that will not just survive, but thrive. One thing all cultures share is the strong desire to survive and thrive. In leading change, the key is to position the change as an ally in the fight to survive and thrive. Get that right and you are well on your way to success.
Beliefs, Values and Assumptions
Beliefs, values and assumptions are the three key forces in your culture that very often are invisible to you. They don't show up on management reports or dashboards. Yet they exist and exert a huge influence on how your organization functions.
Beliefs and Values
Some senior leaders roll their eyes when the topic of organizational beliefs and values gets raised. Many don't believe in or value the power of these organizational forces. So I start there by saying something along the lines of "I can see that you believe in and value straight talk about the power of beliefs and values."
The irony of that statement is never lost on those leaders,,,
They believe that much of the chatter around these two forces was invented by people who just don't get what it's like to work in the trenches. They value straight talk about it...and that's always a good place to start!
So by the time we are finished the discussion, they will have arrived at a set of governing beliefs and values that describe their culture, that they themselves have discovered. They also discover just how passionate they are in either defending or changing those beliefs and values. The willingness to examine beliefs and values, and to change them when necessary, is a key force in your organizational culture.
We make assumptions all the time, in areas such as:
- Competitors - how much of a threat they represent
- Employees - how engaged they are
- Customers - how loyal they are
- Stakeholders/Shareholders - how satisfied they are
- Suppliers or vendors - how good they are
- Positioning - our brand image and integrity
- Products and services - how desirable they are
- Communities - how supported or threatened they feel
- Environmental impact - the size of our footprint
...the list goes on.
Sometimes these assumptions are supported by facts or data. Many times they are not. Making assumptions is important, because if we didn't, then we would be forced to question everything all the time. If we did that, we wouldn't get much done.
The problem is that some of our assumptions may be horribly wrong. For example, we may assume that because certain customers or clients are repeatedly choosing us that they are satisfied with what we are supplying. Then along comes a competitor who offers greater reliability, faster delivery or lower cost...and the customer goes elsewhere.
So the key is to periodically and strategically test our assumptions and to make course corrections as necessary. The willingness to test assumptions in this way is a key force in your organizational culture.
Leading Cultural Change
We work with clients to help them develop their organizational capacity and to reshape their organizational culture. Call us to discuss your situation. We will gladly provide you with a free consultation followed by a no-obligation proposal to help you move forward with confidence.
Call us now at 1-877-432-8182 or local in Edmonton at 780-432-8182