“Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast.” – Attributed to Peter Drucker
We all know the power of culture.
A strong culture with a sound strategy and an effective leadership that embraces both can lead an organization to high performance for many years.
And a culture is a very challenging thing to change. But what if you see the obvious need to change your culture? Perhaps it does not fit your new strategy and you are convinced that the strategy is right. Or what if the culture is simply toxic?
First, culture – itself – is not something that you change directly. Please consider this quote from a Harvard Business Review article, “Change is Not the Culprit” (Lorsch & McTague, April 2016):
“ . . . culture isn’t something you ‘fix.’ Rather, . . . culture is what you get after you’ve put new processes or structures in place to tackle tough business challenges like reworking an outdated strategy or business model.”
In consulting work I have done with executives who want to change the culture, we begin by describing the new kind of culture that they want:
*What new behaviors do we want employees to exhibit?
*What new systems, structures, and policies do we need?
*What new standard operating procedures should we establish?
*What obstacles that will get in the way do we need to remove?
Like anything, making these changes requires exceptional leadership. Leaders need to role model the new behaviors, reward others who do so, and hold people accountable.
Once you have the new behaviors, systems, structures, etc. place – then you will have a new culture.
The Kotter eight stage model of leading organization change is a classic and can be a very helpful guide in this process. It starts with establishing a sense of urgency and building a team that will lead the change. Learn more about it here.
More than fifty percent of change efforts fail – and this is largely due to the power of culture. But if you can tame that dragon and get it moving in the right direction, your organization can soar. Obviously, it does not happen overnight. You better get started now.