Recently, I was helping one of my client to develop a new line of product in their product portfolio. With the help of their existing equipments and resources, they could have come out with this new product very easily. In order to create this new product, they required a major shift in their existing culture. Maybe that was the major reason why this initiative hadn't worked for them.
Organizational culture is formed over years through historical events, employee's shared values, employee's shared beliefs, organization's leadership, etc. Normally, organizational culture grows over time, and most of the times people are comfortable with the existing culture. Thus, we can't expect an immediate change in the organizational culture. But we can progressively change organizational culture through following steps:
Understand your existing culture: Before any organization can change its culture, it must first understand the existing culture. There are various ways to perform cultural analysis of your organization. Few methods that I use for cultural analysis are: Schein's rubric and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Schein's rubric can be used for understanding the organizational culture of a smaller company, while Hofstede’s cultural dimensions can be used for understanding the culture of International organizations.
Develop cultural vision: After you are done with understanding your existing organizational culture, you need to develop a cultural vision for your organization. This is a crucial step, as you will be defining the strategic direction for your culture, and making sure that these cultural changes support your overall organizational goals. Envisioning culture artifacts, values and beliefs will help tremendously during this phase. For example: our new culture will have open door policy, tightened ethical standards, etc.
Change organization's behavior: In this stage, we need to change organization's behavior to create the desired organizational culture. We might not be able to change behavior of each and every individual, but we can make changes in the organizational structure and leadership to propagate these changes to an individual level. During this phase, we need to get full support from executives, and provide appropriate training to the employees to make this work. Communication is the key element for changing people's behavior. Thus, we need to provide various channels of feedback and performance metrics, through which we can measure success of these changes. For example: employees feedback sessions, employee satisfaction survey, rate of increase/decrease of productivity, etc.
I hope, these tips will help you to successfully change your organizational culture over time. Please feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other suggestions regarding organizational cultural change. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi