For some mysterious reason I have been reading and studying articles on corporate culture. I found the “Change the Culture, Change the Game” executive book summary very interesting. It is a summary, of course, of the book written by the people who wrote “The OZ Principle,” another great book in summary form. Note: I read summaries because I am a very slow reader and am easily distracted, evidenced by this unnecessary note.
In “Change the Culture, Change the Game,” the authors provide a convincing argument for why organizations get the results they get from their people. It seems that results are the product of the thoughts and actions of people. The thoughts and actions are a result of what people believe. What people believe is rooted in their experiences. That is all simple enough. Experiences lead to beliefs which lead to actions which lead to results.
The authors of the book describe what they call the results pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are experiences. These are the experiences the people have gone through to generate the next part of the pyramid, their beliefs. On top of their beliefs is their leading to the top of the pyramid, the results.
Note: For a great webinar on how our belief system is built and influences our actions go to iamtechnation.com/webinars and view the February 2014 webinar, Climbing the Ladder of Inference – How to Reach a Bad Conclusion.
The thoughts and actions of people are the core of an organization’s culture. The culture is the implementation of the people’s beliefs regarding how they should be performing their work. How they perform their work leads to the organization’s results, be they desired or undesired results. If your organization is achieving desired results, congratulations. Go right now and tell your people how happy you are with their work.
However, if the results are not as desired, what do we do as leaders to achieve the results we want? We can shuffle people around and even out of the organization. We can replace those we hold responsible for the results with someone who achieved great results in another organization’s culture. We can take on the task ourselves since no one can do it better than we can. We can find a clone of ourselves and put her in charge.
The issue here is that short of replacing the entire organization, we still have the people. These people will still act according to their experiences and beliefs. Have you ever noticed that the new boss almost always brings a bunch of people over from his last organization with him? It is much easier to bring them over as replacements than it is to “retrain” the inherited staff. The replaced old boss then drags this now replaced staff over to his new organization. Stay a while and repeat the process.
The authors propose that the best and most permanent means of achieving the desired results is to change the existing organizational culture into a culture of accountability. A culture where people have a shared belief system and consistently take actions in alignment with the pursuit of clear results. Easy, get people to believe and align. Reminds me of the Borg on Star Trek. Now that was a group in complete alignment with a focused objective!
So how do we achieve this alignment in a culture of accountability? The authors are glad you asked because that is what the two books are all about. Since the foundation of the entire culture, as demonstrated by the results pyramid, is the experiences of the people, you must provide different experiences than those to which they are accustomed. Think about how you and everyone else wanders through their normal work day. We essentially do the same things, the same way, for the same reasons. That is our experience.
Ask someone why they do something that way and whatever words they use will boil down to that it is always done that way. Propose a change at a meeting and you will run up against “it won’t work,” “we have never done it before,” etc. People do not like change, especially if they think that it is change for the sake of changing. People do not like being forced out of their comfort zone. Change brings fear of that unknown outside of the box.
To effect a change in culture requires a change in experiences and a re-evaluation of beliefs. This is a fearful situation. As a leader, you must have a well-defined set of objectives and a plan for helping your people to adopt a new belief system. You are asking for a behavioral change and you must provide the requisite experiences that lead to new beliefs.
It seems clear to me that to change the organizational results, you must change the culture. This means changing the people. Either by changing the beliefs of the people you now have or changing the people you now have.
The authors of the books lay out a well-structured, high-success-probability strategy to effectively change the organizational culture to achieve desired results. They are not an easy read, especially for someone easily distracted.
Hey, I see a squirrel. I didn’t know there are squirrels in Vegas. Did I mention that I am easily distracted?
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