As the saying goes, even the longest journey starts with just one step.
Over the years, we’ve engaged with many clients who are dedicated to creating large-scale, significant, and sustainable culture change in their organizations in an effort to drive success. Unfortunately, many of these well-intentioned executives believe there is a silver bullet—some grand gesture of change—that will accomplish their goals.
While significant changes can and do drive sustainable performance improvements, truly transformational change results from a few deceptively simple things.
Get on a Southwest flight to anywhere, buy shoes from Zappos.com, pants from Nordstrom, groceries from Whole Foods, anything from Costco, a Starbucks espresso, or a Double-Double from In N’ Out, and you’ll get a taste of these brands’ vibrant cultures.
Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combine to create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy.
If you mention “innovation” to most business leaders, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they begin to think about Tesla, GE, or 3M. Compared to these giants of innovation, continually pushing the bleeding edge of what’s possible through massive investments in research and development, you may feel like innovation is out of reach.
No matter your organization’s size or industry, however, a culture of innovation may be necessary to evolve and succeed in today’s constantly changing business environment.
As we explored in my last article, The Martian, by Andy Weir, provides a dramatic parallel to some of our most challenging professional situations. We previously talked about empowering our teams and people. In this article, we’ll focus on the remaining two business questions we posed:
How important is our ability to solve problems and depend on our individual skills and strengths? And how critical is our investment not only in our teams but in each individual?
There are many ways to destroy a culture. It can be destroyed by arrogance, hypocrisy or hubris. It can be demolished through bad leadership, nepotism, unchecked misogyny or other unethical practices.
But, a pervasive lack of care might be the most effective way to destroy a culture. Whereas the list of sins above is obvious pathologies of an organization in decay, they are visible, and often manageable, vices. We tend to pay a lot of attention to these vices as they, by way of their visibility, draw our eye. And we tend to overestimate their importance as we underestimate the small things in our organizations.
Trust is a fickle thing. It takes time to build and can be destroyed in a heartbeat. In the workplace, trust is undeniably important. The level of trust an employee has for his or her peers and leadership often defines the line between a happy, engaged worker and an unproductive body filling a cubicle chair.
Yes, trust is a critical component of every successful workplace culture. So why is it so difficult to achieve?
Since day one, my goal as marketing manager at gothamCulture has been to promote our team’s in-depth knowledge and understanding of workplace culture.
We have a diverse group of folks here, with over sixty years combined experience in culture change, leadership development, and strategic planning for both private and public organizations of all sizes. We understand that while most people know what organizational culture is, not everyone is an expert on the subject, and we take great pride in our relatable approach to helping leaders learn to navigate today’s ever-changing business landscape.
I strive to make this blog a hub of valuable information that reflects this relatable expertise, and over the past year, we’ve written some great articles that do just that.
Here, I’ve collected our seven most popular articles about organizational culture change for 2016. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
In our quickly expanding, technologically reliant world, uncertainty and interdependence are far more common now than, say, 30 years ago. This rapid change has given way to agile organization structures, functioning in more democratic or flat ways. Frameworks (i.e. Scrum, XP, Lean) have aided these sort of initiatives, and the need for them has become increasingly more relevant.
Jim Ludema, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a Professor of Global Leadership at Benedictine University. He’s also an expert in organizational culture and values, and a globally-recognized pioneer in the field of Appreciative Inquiry. Here, we ask him about leading culture change.
We all talk, but do we really say much? Perhaps it’s that conversation by the water cooler, the whispering of the coworker across the cube, or better yet, the post on social media that tells more about your company than the values uttered every week during team meetings.