In an interesting article posted on CEO.com, Mike Harden, the CEO of Clarity Group posed the question, “Can You Change Your Corporate Culture?” He gives a useful analysis of what he describes as “the company way”, which he attributes to its corporate culture, emphasising that this culture should flow from the top downwards rather than the reverse. After indicating that corporate cultures can be strong or weak, he goes on to identify two distinct timescales for a culture change.
A gradual, systematic change can be achieved through the introduction of measures such as new strategy implementation, staff communications, the acquisition of new management personnel, training, establishing policies and procedures to cement the novel culture, shedding employees who refuse to opt into the change of culture and instituting reward systems for those who actively support it.
In certain situations, however, a more rapid change may required, although in the opinion of the author, there are only limited circumstances in which a culture change can be effected within an abbreviated timescale. These are:
- When your company is acquired by another – although the new culture may not necessarily be the one that you would have chosen!
- When your company acquires another – when you may absorb those parts of its culture that you feel would be beneficial to the combined business.
- When you re-brand – where you may boldly add a culture change to “the mix” along with your new product, logo, infrastructure, literature etc.
- When you relocate – using the change of habitat and surroundings, within which the personnel are already in a state of major change, as an ideal opportunity to also introduce the new corporate culture.
What the piece demonstrates most clearly is that it is of critical importance to recognise when a change of culture is indicated and then to implement the required changes at a pace that the circumstances permit. To fail to do so is likely to have disastrous consequences, resulting in, at best, the maintenance of a stagnant, pedestrian and tepid business or, at worst, a total organisational collapse.
Article review by Mark Edwards, Adcurata.