It’s true, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Study after study shows that many strategy implementation and business transformation projects fail to meet their performance objectives. Success often depends on changing staff behaviors or organization culture to achieve full value of new strategies, systems, procedures, or organizational structures. Yet behavior change is difficult, and leaders need help to deal with resistance and develop interventions that accelerate adoption and embedment.
Here are three client situations in which I have participated to address behavior and culture to be successful:
Client A was implementing an organization-wide transformation that would change how almost every employee did their job. Yet they had a culture of animosity at the senior levels. This is what happens when cross functional dysfunction runs unchecked. The first thing we had to do was address this dysfunction and help align the senior leadership with the purpose and goals of the transformation. As we worked through this change, we were able to eliminate almost all this dysfunction throughout the organization. The project was successful.
Client B was a new organization formed by consolidating several other smaller groups. One goal of the consolidation was to improve engagement of lower-level employees. The consolidation brought together people from disparate backgrounds to form the new organization. Every leader came with their own ideas to solve the problem of engagement. Early in the process, every leader advocated for their position. It became evident that we first needed to develop a greater culture of trust and healthy conflict within the leadership team. Then we were able to address engagement much faster and more thoroughly. The project was successful.
Client C was an organization going through a period of tremendous growth. They more than doubled their size in less than 18 months. Going into this, the leader was concerned about intraorganizational competition that led to mistrust and passive aggressive behavior. We worked to ensure all employees were clear on the organizational mission, and then we built a culture to better appreciate the value of each of the areas and eliminate cross functional dysfunction. The project was successful.
In each of these three cases there were clearly cultural issues that needed to be addressed before we could be successful with the business change that each of these organizations wanted to achieve. Identifying and resolving organizational health issues was paramount to success in each of these cases.
Call to action: If you are contemplating a significant change in your organization, no matter it be system, process, merger, acquisition, outsourcing, etc., perform an honest assessment of your culture. Use my free assessment to assist you. Then take steps to address the gaps. You will achieve greater results faster when you do.
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Dedicated to your safe and healthy transformation through this unprecedented time,
Quote generally attributed to Peter Drucker.