Most leaders have heard the expression, “You need to drive your culture or it will drive your business—for better or worse.” In reality, putting these words into action to achieve real cultural change with sustainable, measurable results is a long-term journey. The payoff is huge. With vision, focus, and investment in the right culture experts, diagnostics, and change processes, a Constructive culture can drive significant business performance.
‘Tis the season for reflecting on the year that’s ended and planning for the year we’ve entered. A ritual that often results in…NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!
It’s known that New Year’s resolutions come with an abysmally low success rate—only 8% of people achieve them. Probably as low, if not lower, than the success rate of major organizational changes; such as mergers, reorganizations, and—near-and-dear to the readers of this blog’s hearts—culture change initiatives, which fail at a dismal rate of 70% — a statistic that has not changed in over 30 years.1
As the first culture-shaping consulting firm, Senn Delaney has quite literally made organizational culture its business. Larry Senn and his colleagues, including partner and executive vice president Bill Parsons, have brought their mission of “creating healthy, high-performance cultures” to more than 500 companies. Bill shared some of the knowledge they’ve gathered over their 38 years of experience at the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference—including the four principles that must be upheld to really shape culture and improve performance.
Culture change is a human experience. It’s not just a business imperative, as it has been viewed for decades, as reflected in the following examples. “If we’re going to grow, we have to change the culture,” or “This culture is toxic, and it is affecting our customer service.” These examples reflect a perspective that is short-sighted and can be detrimental to the success of your business and employees. For culture change to have a chance of becoming contagious, leaders should more deeply understand how business needs and the human experience of change can work in concert. Together, these two can help navigate change pitfalls. More on those in a moment.
When called upon to institute major organizational transitions, business leaders need help navigating the process of implementing cultural change. Consequently, they call upon people from a wide array of disciplines (change management, project management, organizational design, IT, HR, leadership development, strategic planning, business relationship management, etc.) to fulfill this need. I refer to the professionals who provide this guidance as “change practitioners,” regardless of what discipline they represent or whether they operate as internal employees or external consultants.