Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Shifting the Culture within an Organization

How do you create, or in the case of an existing business, shift the CULTURE within an organization?

Please share some of your secrets, because (as I'm sure you've noticed) this can be a huge challenge! 

1) Here is an exercise that I sometimes have people consider when I speak with audiences of potential entrepreneurs. This can also be adapted for audiences comprised of existing business owners as well. Simply, step back from the busyness of your current activities and allow yourself for a few moments to focus on your business from the perspective of planning to set it up.  Of course, this is easier to do if you haven't actually started the business! However, for those who are already up and running, use your imagination to take you back to that point in time just prior to starting the business.  

Now, think of your business as being a 'blank canvas' onto which you have the opportunity to paint a picture, any picture of your choice. Ask yourself the following questions: "What picture will you paint on that canvas? What is the image that will be portrayed to the outside world? What impression will others have of your business, and by extension, of you, its owner? What picture they will see?"

I believe that it is easier to shape the culture of your organization if you plan in advance, deciding what you want that culture to be. Change is challenging for most people to make. We tend to get comfortable with the way that things are, the status-quo. Even when we know that a proposed change will be beneficial, we tend to resist change. (File that under 'Strange, but true'.)

2) Related to this, I recently spoke with John Kuypersauthor of the newly published, Who’s the Driver Anyway? Making the Shift To A Collaborative Team Culture. John is a collaborative leadership and productivity expert, and he kindly sent me a wealth of information. (Thanks John)

What you see below is a portion of John Kuyper's article called, 
How to Shift the Sales Culture in Your Company

After describing his experience in attempting to shift the sales culture in a business where he was the VP of Sales, John said it was akin to catching a tiger by the tail, John writes: 

"What I wish I knew then was a concept called Time Frame.  It explains the role of each level in the organization.  I adapted it from the work of Elliott Jaques of Requisite Organization fame.   Time frame helps everyone get that this is the way successful organizations function, and what it means for each level’s role in building a high-functioning team.  ...   Today, leaders need to engage employees and that means teaching everyone what it means to work together as a collaborative team within a hierarchical structure.  Leaders at all levels need to know how to shift and share decision-making power up and down the organization.  It is a skill and any leader who manages people needs to learn it or face severe consequences in the 21st century ...  Command and control is dying and collaboration is the new leadership style."

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