The culture within a business is an invisible entity, and yet it has such a tangible effect, like the wind. As leaders, we are not about passively following the wind or trends in business culture. Still, we are proactively harnessing it to direct our team into new waters and creating a culture where initiative and growth are encouraged. In our last blog, we discussed principles on how to change business culture; in this blog, we look at expanding these thoughts into a cultural movement.
For organisations seeking to become more adaptive and innovative, culture change is often the most challenging part of the transformation. Innovation demands new behaviours from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency. Culture change won’t be achieved through a top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of “how things are done around here.” Someone with authority can demand compliance, but they can’t dictate optimism, trust, conviction, or creativity.
We often think of cultural movements as starting with a call to action, but the truth is that movements begin with emotion. Dissatisfaction with the status quo turns into discontent with the way things always are and identifying these key areas and how to improve them will help create action. Being a voice that provides a positive vision and a path forward is how you, as a leader, create a positive business culture.
Like all effective movements, the goal is to demonstrate ideas in action, not just talk about it. Be proactive with your leadership team and engage early adopters and key people in the organisation who can help implement the changes in the culture. Unity within your organisation when changing a culture comes from listening, identifying the issues, and engaging the change.
In a cultural movement based approach to change, a moderate amount of friction is positive. A complete absence of friction probably means that little is changing. Look for the places where the movement faces resistance and experiences friction. They often indicate where the dominant organisational design and culture may need to evolve.Remember that culture change only happens when people take action. So start there. While articulating a mission and changing company structures are essential, it’s often a more successful approach to tackle those sorts of issues after you’ve been able to show people the change you want to see.
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