The easiest way to discover whether an organisation is working effectively is to examine the relationships between functions, department locations, etc. A key focus of culture change should be " knocking down the walls" between such areas. They are real and do exist. Note the variety of cultures within a medium- to large-scale company. The culture of one department may be radically different to that of others. A significant shift should be made to generate positive working relationships between functions, ensuring everybody is pulling in the same direction.
It is critical that functions and departments which depend on each other see each other as a part of a continuous process - a supply chain with seamless service. However, in reality, too many organisations have cultures based on functional expertise and often work despite each other.
It is remarkable how often it is noted that the strategies owned by functional areas within a large organisation are unknown to others within the same business. This has to be challenged; it will create win-lose relationships and a climate of low mutual trust if allowed to persist. This is often evidenced by the corporate grapevine's growth and the negativism associated with pointless political battles and turf wars.
We have witnessed situations when key business drivers heading functions prefer to "keep their options open" and purposely create a climate of ambiguity where staff do not know what is expected of them. This also translates into failing to set objectives and provide information to others in the structure.
In recent years, difficulties associated with change in some client companies has been traced mostly to departmental heads running their own Empire without consideration, concern or care for the business as a whole. The sooner these people are encouraged to change their attitude and behaviour or leave, the sooner simplicity can reign, and staff can be allowed to get on with their jobs. The watchword should be "if at first you can't change the people, change the people."
Attitude - who me?
We all know that change can be effective only when we start the process and lead by example, but the common theme in some companies is still 'it's his fault, not mine'. This is characteristic of a blame culture where the guilty are hunted and then publicly humiliated. This fear culture (and it is common) has to be broken first. Changing the white knuckle response of senior managers, whose first reaction is "whose fault is it?", to "that's unfortunate, how can we ensure it never happens again?" is very difficult to teach, but is central to those lower in the hierarchy who may be reluctant to open up and discuss significant problems on the interface between departments.
Lack of critical ability - looking in the mirror
There can be an unfortunate tendency for managers to fail to look for ways to improve personal effectiveness. Again, in a fearful climate, there are no rewards for admitting a lack of competence. This is where we find the philosophy of the learning organisation is undersold or not understood. Continual learning and a self-critical attitude are essential concerning promoting continuous improvement.
Far too many businesses have a strong firefighting philosophy. Regarding the Planning Cycle, there is too little time devoted to planning and integrating projects and too much time dedicated to the "Ready Fire Aim" Management school. This lack of discipline and control leads to a chaotic environment where everyone is busy, but less than optimum value is added.
Never enough time
Perhaps the biggest killer of Culture Change is the well-quoted phrase, "We do not have enough time." If this one fails, the other quote is usually half whispered, "listen, I know it's important, but I get judged on what we ship to customers - that's what I get paid for, and that's what I'll do". This risk-averse, 'it's more than my job's worth" syndrome sends sharp signals to everybody else within the company. Once this virus spreads, a significant management exhortation on commitment is the only way out.
To undertake Cultural due diligence contact Philip