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Creating a culture that thrives on change

Article

Does it feel like your company is going through constant change? Have you recently experienced a reorganization, a merger, acquisition, or perhaps a shift in culture as working from home becomes the new normal? Change is the only constant, thus it is important to develop a growth mindset and create a culture that thrives on change.

One of the biggest challenges to creating a culture change, is your current culture. I’ve seen this often after a company sends people to Agile training. People come back to the office with new insights, very motivated to change their behaviors and incorporate what they learned into their daily work. Ideally, the support structures are in place to help everyone make those changes. Unfortunately, what often happens in these situations is that people quickly become frustrated and abandon the new habits they have learned. Often this is because the environment they work in hasn't changed with them and doesn't support the new way of working. Has this happened at your company? 

Understanding your company's existing culture is a key part of creating a culture of change. If the culture itself doesn't support the change it says it wants to achieve, then it will fail. A company culture assessment can provide valuable insights. Once you understand your company's current culture better, then you can anticipate obstacles and develop a plan to overcome them. 
 

How culture affects culture change, can be broken down into two distinct types of culture: 

  • Fixed mindsets value things like high IQs, hierarchy, authority, competitiveness, and winning. These may not sound like bad things when looked at individually and in moderation. However, if they used to define a company's culture, they can prevent it from adapting and growing.
     
  • Growth mindsets value things like curiosity, resilience, determination, experimentation, open communication, and collaboration. Questioning the status quo, experimenting with new ideas and ways of working is at the center of innovation. Failure is a valuable learning experience.

People, beliefs, structure

At the heart of every company’s culture is people, which makes people the most important element to change. If you want to change a culture or move it in a different direction, you must win the hearts and minds of people, which may mean asking people to evolve their belief systems. 

Our belief systems are formed by our experiences and become ingrained over time. We often seek out information that confirms our beliefs, which is known as confirmation bias. Thus, if you want to change someone's beliefs, you need to give them concrete evidence to the contrary so they can understand there is another way and that their beliefs are not set in stone.

It also may mean changing the organizational structure of the company. The company's, mission, vision and values may be published. A job description can state tasks to be completed. In the end, people will do what they think will bring them the most success and rewards. In most cases people do what they're incentivized to do. As a result, the performance review process and incentives will likely need to be adapted to support the desired culture.

Final Thoughts

Creating a culture of change is one of the few ways to virtually guarantee that your business will survive and prosper in the future. Take care to ensure the culture change you are pursuing will be sustainable, and the way to do that is to align it to your business strategy. Your business strategy lays out the roadmap for where you want to go and how you plan to get there, and your culture is the vehicle. Along the way, you may encounter detours and need assistance. This is where an experienced consultant can really help guide the way to a successful and sustainable culture change that secures your company’s future.