Anyone who has ever attempted to lead change in an organization, regardless of its size and complexity, will attest that it’s not for the faint of heart. One simple attestation to this is the countless number of books and articles written on the topic.
While organizational change can be difficult, regardless of the circumstances, it can be particularly challenging to create change in organizations that have long-standing histories and deeply embedded cultural norms, beliefs, and assumptions. Organizations that are solidly grounded in legacy and that place significant value on an enviable history oftentimes have the most difficulty creating change. This is especially true when these organizations are attempting to create transformative change (completely disruptive) as opposed to evolutionary change (small slices of change over time).
Pharma-, Medtech-, Biotech- and Diagnostic-industries are experiencing ubiquitous change. Strong silo-mentalities and tough regulatory forces in the healthcare sector create challenges for employees and leaders alike. In addition, trends such as reduced innovation in R&D departments and mounting digitalization of products and processes are increasing the complexity of the work environment.
To solve the tension between the constant pressure to change on one hand and the rigorous structures on the other, organizations are looking for tools and methods that increase innovative thought and action.
The mountain of articles, posts and books written on leadership every year reflects two realities. First, people are very interested in how to be an effective leader. And second, leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The lessons mined from one leader’s experience may not be applicable in a different context. More than offering leadership development, organizations can address this reality by creating a culture of leadership.
Creating a culture of leadership has four primary components: Self-mastery, Action, Relationship and Context.
The commercial aviation industry is a tough business. Really tough. Margins are often razor thin, factors like the weather can wreak havoc on your operation in the blink of an eye and customer expectations of the air travel experience tend to be extremely low. Aviation workers give it their all every day to deliver in, sometimes, unrelenting environments and they aren’t usually paid all that well for what they do.
We recently reached out to Chatbooks for an interview focused on storytelling, but talking deeper with their CMO, Rachel Hofstetter, we learned how amazing this brand really is. The values they operate by actively guide the way the company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment. Their values-based culture results in high employee involvement, strong internal communication and a healthy level of risk-taking which encourages new levels of innovation. If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, Chatbooks is an example of the significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture.
Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that must be set, or adjusted, to attain long-term, sustainable success.
A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates.
As Winston Churchill once proclaimed, “History is written by the victors.” While this sentiment may hold a bit less weight in today’s society where even the “losers” can shape the collective narrative with the help of things like the internet, the “winners” do tend to hold quite a bit of power over shaping how future generations interpret the events of the past.
One way to shape peoples’ interpretation of the past is to remove and replace the physical artifacts of a people. The statues, monuments, images, the schoolbooks and stories that do not align with the version of history that you wish to promote. Read More…
I once worked with a CEO of a successful startup. His company had been experiencing growing pains and customer-service mishaps that led to a decline in performance. During a leadership meeting designed to review recent irregular operations, he raised his hand and took ownership of the problem with a blunt assessment.
“The fish stinks at the head,” he said.
In other words, the organizational issues stemmed from leadership errors. These mistakes at the top of an organization can easily trickle down to create cultural issues throughout the team.
Companies undergo cultural assessments for a variety of reasons—and they’re not always because things have gone awry. A company might have a great culture that it wants to preserve during a growth phase. Or it might want to evolve the company’s culture to keep pace with a leadership change, market shift or relocation.
Other times, companies need to know why something unexpected has happened. Leaders might be trying to address increased turnover, decreased market share, a drop in productivity or something as major as ethical violations. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always understand what the aforementioned CEO identified: Organizational issues often go much deeper than culture. Read More…
The quantification of the benefits that corporations can enjoy over their completion (as much as a 20 to 30% gain over other companies, according to James L. Heskett) came about in the 1980’s. Since then corporate culture has been an area of focus for top executives for obvious reasons.
Facebook, Twitter and the like were originally viewed as millennial playthings, especially by senior executives. However, many companies have come to the realization that they are a way of building and maintaining corporate culture.
They are the digital analogue of offices, meeting rooms, letterhead and all the other myriad ways that companies communicate their culture and values in the physical world. Read More…
My son turns eleven today. We are all set to celebrate as we always do – our kids love the traditions that come with birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, college football, and too many other events to mention. The house is decorated exactly the same for every birthday. I’m told they love it that way. There will be a special dinner, as always.
All this tradition and consistency got me thinking. My children certainly love new things and surprises: new adventures, trips to unknown places, crazy experiences. And still, for a handful of personal milestones, they seem to want- to need- something familiar and dependable. Certainly, that is to be expected. New experiences bring excitement, anticipation of something unknown, and the possibility of “total awesomeness” (which, I have to imagine, is what the kids are saying nowadays.) Those traditions, the patterns sought out by their own brains, bring them a sense of stability, safety, and comfort. See my recent innovation webinar for more on this. Read More…