There are many definitions of organisational culture and many approaches as to how to change it when there is a sense that ‘the way we do things around here’ is not helping the organisation meet its goals. Most attempts to change culture fail and this is because they are often too simplistic in their approach or methodologies.
Organisational culture emerges from the daily conversations and negotiations between the members of the organisation – as a result of their explicit or implicit agreements about the ‘right’ way to act and/or make meaning of the events occurring around them (internal and external to the organisation). It follows that to change culture these conversations and agreements have to change and this happens as a result of the values and belief systems changing. Successful culture change activity addresses these values, beliefs, perceptions and common practices.
Organisations are complex systems and hence successful change will be emergent – it comes about from changed interactions between members of the organisation. Whilst culture change programmes must be led and supported from the top it is this emergent change throughout the business that is key and we see our role as supporting you to facilitate this emergence. We work alongside you (often in your shadow) because culture change cannot be imposed – either by the leadership team or, worse still, by external consultants.
There are culture measurement tools which we occasionally use (particularly the Denison Survey of Organisational Culture) as a way of engaging people at the start of a culture change exercise and to start the dialogue of change.