Culture Turnaround

In his article in the Harvard Business Review Blog, Jon Katzenbach suggests that “There’s No Such Thing as a Culture Turnaround.” In making the point that there is no “quick fix” when it comes to culture change he goes on to describe how change can be effected, albeit over time, consequent upon only a few behavioural modifications. As Katzenbach puts it, concentrating on the “right behaviors” can bring about a “revitalisation” of cultural traits.

This revitalisation might be achieved, he suggests, as follows:

• Find a theme for change and summarize it at the highest level to achieve coherence of understanding across the entire organisation

• Don’t claim victory too soon. Because culture is constantly and slowly evolving to fit strategic and operating priorities, it is not an endpoint but part of a continuing movement towards improved business performance

• Enlist the help of informal leaders by identifying “influencers” in the organization. These may not be the “high potentials” but are those individuals who “get things done in the organization” and mobilize colleagues to opt into the cultural evolution

• Remember that cultural forces don’t go away and that “you can’t kill an existing culture.” Instead, you should work with the “influencers” to formulate and articulate those behaviours that the organisation needs

• Start now. As the organisation’s cultural situation will influence all that it does, the time to begin to understand it is now!

Implementing these changes of behaviours can have not only an immediate impact on performance but also a longer-term effect on the evolution of a modified corporate culture.

Article review by Lindsay Dubock CEO Adcurata

Adcurata, cultural change, company culture

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