I spent a few hours with the CEO of a major organization talking about changing the culture in an organization – something that is easy to say – but incredibly difficult to do.
In most organizations, the rules of how the organization works and how people treat each other and interact are not codified – by that I mean written down and standardized. But despite this, the cultural rules and norms are hard wired – people quickly pick up on ‘that’s how we behave around here’ or ‘that’s how we do it’.
Changing the culture is a step by step process – being very deliberate about what you want to change and demonstrating the change through actions, recognition and reinforcement.
A key component is repeat, repeat, repeat – telling the message again and again until you almost feel ill saying it again – and only then is it starting to sink in.
Without continued demonstration of what is required and repeating of the message, existing behavior quickly reverts.
There is no question that getting the culture right is vital. However, I don’t support the view that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. If either strategy and culture are misaligned or either is poor, you will not be successful.
A great culture doesn’t make up for a poor strategy and a great strategy can’t be implemented if the culture is not aligned and positive.