In my last post, we identified four strategies of organizational change. Today, we'll take a look at strategies 3 and 4: to engage people and to personally embody the change. As discussed, organizational change has to start where people are: we depart from the (potentially blocking) current culture. Next, we let people develop their change plan including an empowering, positive culture with new behaviors.
Now we know how change tends to succeed, how it can fail, and how to check the four archetypes of culture as a starting point for change, let’s see how we can engage people as this is a crucial condition for successful change. What are strategies to organizational change?
When you’d like an organizational change to succeed it’s a good idea to start where people are: current culture, as discussed in my last blog post. To quickly map current and desired culture I use the validated Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), developed by professors Kim Cameron & Robert Quinn at the University of Michigan.
Are you frustrated about change? Many people are. Both in our personal and in our work lives, it can be a challenge. In my last post, I discussed ten reasons why organizational change is not working and in this post, I’ll serve you another seven. This is not meant to discourage you. This is to alert and prepare you so you can improve your change skills. Because it is important for positive change to succeed. Let’s continue and learn how to avoid as many causes of wasted energy as we can.
Why would we even look at what is not working well in organizational change?
Looking at what went wrong can help us learn how to improve our personal and organization’s change competence. I’ve learned from reflecting on my consulting projects that were hard, those that got stuck, those that took way too much effort and sapped my energy, and those that left me feeling dissatisfied. Even when clients seemed happy, I wasn’t always….
Do you know that culture is one of the main reasons for the huge failure rate of organizational change? In my first assignment, fresh out of university, I presented a plan with the “best” solution to a particular organization’s problem. I remember the board meeting where the top executives agreed on this plan. Great! But they never implemented it... My hard work ended up in a drawer. It didn’t fit their priorities, their personalities, their culture.
Have you ever considered changing corporate culture in and through meetings? It may be an easy starting point after doing the OCAI culture survey. Every place where people get together, interventions are visible and will thus influence group dynamics and behaviors. Your OCAI culture profile may help you see what to change.
What are the “undiscussables” in your workplace? Is there something that almost everyone knows but no one mentions…? Welcome to the heart of organizational culture! Undiscussables are essential to understanding company culture, let alone change it.
Last year, the New York Times revealed that there was “an elephant in the room” at Harvard business school. The undiscussable was gender equity resulting in females getting lower grades. Also, both female staff and students felt pressure to dress well, ‘look hot’ and not be ‘too assertive.'
Clients that use the OCAI to assess their current and preferred culture often do this to change or improve their culture. The first question after completing the survey and seeing the culture profiles is: What are the next steps? That’s a valid question. You can outline a rough process of working with the results. But you cannot prescribe exact steps and results. That is hard to accept for many organizations. We’ve become accustomed to planning and control: we’d like to know when the culture will be changed, what the results will be, and how much budget and sessions that will take.