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Overview: Change based on Culture and Positive Leadership

  • 21 November 2016
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

In this series about Culture, Change, and Leadership we’ve discussed how organizational change can fail or be successful and how organizational culture can help or hinder. This article provides an overview of what we’ve covered thus far - including my Change Circle approach.

You probably know about the 70% failure rate of organizational change. One of the reasons is that change programs don’t align with the current culture. A more fundamental cause is the conventional command and control mindset and linear worldview of many leaders and employees.

  • This results in telling the others what to change or forcing them - while they are not included or engaged.
  • Next, the change initiative is rolled out top-down, causing resistance as it deviates from “the way people do things around here.”
  • Furthermore, many change projects don’t make abstract values operational nor do they translate them into behavioral change.

These causes of failure are well known by consultants and coaches, but many organizations still seem to entertain this mindset. Clients sometimes ask me to change their organization’s culture for them. Or they want me to deliver a precise schedule and budget and define exact outcomes: which goals will be reached by when? This is what clients still expect - based on the linear, command and control mindset.

“The number one obstacle to success for major change projects is employee resistance and the ineffective management of the people side of change.”
The Prosci Best Practices in Change Management Benchmarking Study (2009)

Instead, I argue for change based on culture, positive leadership, and the “people side” of change:

  • Organizations practice inclusiveness and ask everyone to contribute to change.
  • They accept complexity: no rigid control but self-organization within boundaries.
  • They play with non-linearity: change one small habit at a time to create a hugely different outcome.
  • They use systems theory and entice a critical mass to change behaviors until the whole organization has changed.
  • They acknowledge emergence and discover opportunities that could not have been foreseen.

Change Circles to make Change work

Culture can be a major obstacle to change: keeping people embedded in their comfortable habits. People in groups tend to copy, coach, and correct each other to keep things the same. This powerful copy mechanism in groups can be reversed: to practice new ways of doing and thinking! People are the key to successful organizational change because they have to change personal behaviors, beliefs, and meanings or nothing will change at all.

96% of people believe culture change is needed in their organization in some form, and 51% need a major culture overhaul. - Booz & Company Survey

My approach to successful change is to engage all employees in small teams. Within Change Circles, around ten people work on the “what” and the “how” of change. They take ownership of their part (instead of obeying top-down orders) while they benefit from peer support to DO change and stick with it (even when it’s tempting to go back to old habits).

Change What?

To help people reach clarity and consensus on the “What” to Change, I use the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI - developed by Cameron and Quinn) that quickly maps culture. The OCAI is a validated survey that scores culture in a quantitative way.

OCAI Culture TypesBased on the Competing Values Framework, the OCAI maps the culture according to four archetypes of culture:

  • the entrepreneurial, innovative Create (Adhocracy) culture,
  • the people-oriented, friendly Collaborate (Clan) Culture,
  • the process-oriented, structured Control (Hierarchy) Culture and
  • the results-oriented, competitive Compete (Market) Culture.

After the OCAI survey, we meet in Change Circles for a dialogue about the “Why and What” but especially about the “How” of Change. People translate the culture types to their specific, daily behaviors, and underlying assumptions. They add qualitative examples to the quantified culture profile for a better understanding of where they are.

Next, we assess the future challenges, goals, strategy, and determine which culture type would be best for them. The circle determines the crucial behaviors and beliefs that will make them succeed. Now they know where they Are and where they want to Be. But How do you get to that destination?

Change How?

The Change Circle engages people to solving the puzzle of how to create change. This may help their organizational system shift toward the preferred culture and change.

This HOW is different for each organization. We have to trace those particular details that will make a difference in this organization. An expert consultant can’t tell, but the insiders have subconscious knowledge of the organization. They can discover the viral habits that people copy, and reach the tipping point to change.

An effective Change Circle needs a facilitator who guides the group process. If the group shares ideas and energy and commits to this change, you’ll solve that puzzle and find the viral behavior that can create organizational change.

Change Who?

Even if a CEO has a clear idea of the What and How of change, she can’t order the others to change. People need to see it for themselves, commit to the change, or they might not do it.

Change circles of 10 people are small enough to engage people. There’s space for dialogue, to solve obstacles or reflect on objections. They enhance commitment because no one can hide in a small team. Small circles work with peer support; once trust is secured. If you don’t agree, your coworkers will notice. There’s no hiding in a large audience, and no stealthy criticizing because people talk to each other, not talk about each other, in a small Change Circle. A leader or consultant can facilitate this process.

Ten people will know more than one. They solve the how-to puzzle - while eliminating obstacles, influencing some people’s objections and thus, together, changing beliefs. They commit to the change, while they support each other to change habits over time. Change Circles take more time up front, but they yield more results in the end.

Positive Culture

Corporate ConstipationChange Circles are a great way to engage people. You can use them to develop a positive culture, enhance everyone’s competency to change, and use positive leadership to boost performance.

This culture-based approach of Positive Change Leadership is covered in the video training “Leading Successful Change.”

This 4-hour training is a compilation of lectures recorded during my Culture Change Leadership workshop based on my book “Organizational Culture Change: Unleash your Organization’s Potential in Circles of 10”.

The videos explore these questions:

  • Why does Organizational Change often fail - and how does it succeed?
  • What is Organizational Culture and why does it matter in Change?
  • How to use the Competing Values Framework in Change?
  • How to facilitate Change in Change Circles?
  • How to utilize Viral Change and Positive Leadership?
  • How to focus on personal behaviors and support in the Change Circle?

This video training Leading Successful Change will open your eyes to how people “do things around here” and how they relate to each other - and why that matters if you aim for positive change.

Video Training Offer

The video training Leading Successful Change is regularly priced at 97 USD.

Combined with the basis Organizational Culture Change Video training (12 hours) the deal for both is $ 127.

If you want to benefit from the combined offer - click now to enroll.

Don’t want to buy anything? Not a problem! I have many articles to share. In my next post, this blog series continues...

Sumeet Kumar

"This is the best training I have received in the last 20 years of my career. I have been doing change management in organizations for last 13 years but the insight provided in this training has opened my world view and has put some structure to such complicated topic. I would highly recommend this training to all individuals who take pride in associating themselves as change agents and who want to make a contribution to the society by helping organizations get to the next level."
Sumeet Kumar, MBA Founding Partner at KFI Management Consulting Ontario, Canada

"This program is an absolute must for anyone involved in leading change! Marcela provides a guided tour of the complex and often misunderstood world of organizational culture and presents simple, practical and proven strategies for change. Marcella's approach is simple, practical and grounded in research. Each video module is expertly crafted - steeped with theory and real world application. This is an investment you won't regret."
Kelly Duggan

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