Organizational Culture Change

"This is the world of co-creation and emergent advantages in networks inside and outside of the organization… The coming of age of masses of well-educated workers who like to take ownership for their own lives and careers…"

- Organizational Culture Change, page 18

When it comes to change management, many us can undoubtedly identify with the sentiment, “been there, done it, got the T-shirt”.  That’s why Marcella Bremer’s Organizational Culture Change: Unleash Your Organization’s Potential in Circles of 10 proves such a breath of fresh air compared to ordinary literature on the topic.

Citing the 50 to 70% failure rate of “exclusive” programs (defined as top-down, command and control, forced behavior change), she welcomes us to the new world.  No boss can keep up with today’s light-speed complexity.  That is, unless we confront these stark realities using this book’s clear frameworks and concrete advice.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Create Circles of Ten

"We don’t have time for that!  We’re not therapists.  We don’t like the fluffy stuff!"
- Organizational Culture Change, page 19

While no counselor herself, Bremer asserts that winning efforts entail bottom-up drive, simultaneous personal and collective change, as well as enticing workers to shift their beliefs.  Such upfront investment inevitably yields long-term results.

Toward these ends, her unique “change circles” concept (where peers of 10 collaborate to derive feasible outcomes together) constitutes a powerful success factor.  In small groups people know, see and trust while providing mutual support.

As employees coach and correct one another, we bypass the “stickiness of culture”.  The CEO can’t change 1,000 team members.  Enough individuals have to be willing to alter themselves or nothing will transform in the organization as a whole.

The author appropriately suggests we’re not going for the ultimate “best” plan but what gets accepted in your company.  It’s not about “being right” but obtaining fans and followers these days!

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The 7C Framework of 21C Change

"Never give up.  The minute you let go is the minute people are tempted to go back to old habits and rest in their comfort zones.  Help them through the ‘messy middle’ to a happy ending, until the next change…"
- Organizational Culture Change, page 24

After struggling in several projects, Marcella summarized what she learned about seven elements that will make a positive difference in your situation, too.

1. Commitment from the top
2. Clarity on current and desired situation and goals
3. Consensus and commitment from workers
4. Continuous communication
5. Copy-Coach-Correct: Consistency
6. Create critical mass
7. Carry on

Before, during and after the change process, we need to check if these conditions are being met.  It may seem tempting to skip one due to busyness or not wanting to spend additional time/money.

Perhaps someone questions the importance of the 7 C’s.  Hopefully, that isn’t a top executive, for they need to be as personally committed to adopting new habits as anyone else involved.  BE the change, as reinforced throughout.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The 7-Step Guide of Culture Change

"Habits take time to grow.  Failed change projects are often aborted too soon."
- Organizational Culture Change, page 26

So, how do you change an organization’s culture?  Here, in 7 easy-to-follow steps (that are not necessarily simplistic to execute) is your answer:

1. Assess the Current and Preferred Culture
2. Diagnose the Quantified Culture Profiles
3. Understand and Add Qualitative Information (such as examples and stories)
4. Raise Awareness, Consensus and Engagement to Change
5. Future Scan, see the Why, the Vision and Strategy
6. Understand and Customize the Preferred Culture (e.g., ask such questions as what will I change tomorrow, which habits need to be abandoned, which new behaviors need to be practiced)
7. Co-create the How-to-Change Plan

In essence, steps 1 to 6 represent the WHAT to change (where we are now and where we want to be).  Step 7 is the magical HOW.  For instance, how do we carry on when we get tired or start to doubt the change process?

Either way, detailed case studies from a wide variety of settings – along with brutally honest insights based upon the “dark side of culture” – virtually guarantee that all of us will locate much of value within this rich resource.

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Carol-Ann Hamilton

ABOUT Carol-Ann Hamilton

Carol-Ann Hamilton is a dedicated Maverick, Catalyst & Pioneer-Visionary who brings three decades’ coaching and facilitation expertise to her singular goal, “Encouraging Your Greatness”...
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