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Is corporate culture worrying you?

Culture is the implicit social order in our organizations. Culture is the ghost, the shadow that shapes organizational attitudes and behaviors. Cultural norms defines what is encouraged, overlooked, ignored, not thought about, shapes when we make decisions and or postpone decision making.

Culture is a powerful force and undercurrent that validates many of an organizations decisions and positions consciously or unconsciously.

Culture affects people interaction in the work place meaning how we relate to each other, compete with each other, whether we collaborate or have greater autonomy and this is how it affects the effectiveness of teams. In tandem, culture affects directly our readiness to embrace or resist change.

Perhaps this is more noticeable as it is manifested by behavioral tendencies that emphasize stability, maintenance of status quo on one side and the other flexibility and receptiveness to change.

We discuss culture because it directly affects strategy execution and performance results. Thus the Board and Senior Managers must evolve organizational culture to align and support the prevailing corporate strategy. Otherwise culture eats strategy for breakfast as you know comprising strategy implementation and organizational results before mid-day.

Organizational Executives must be alert and vigilant to deliver required incentives and apply equally sanctions to evolve human behavior to support strategy execution.

So how can we build or evolve a great culture in our organizations? Unlike strategies and business plans developing, changing or evolving new culture is a complex since it involves emotional and social dynamics of people in the
organization. Some few practices that have led to successful changes include:

  1. Articulating desired aspiration/outcome: these are high level principles that guide institutions when implementing initiatives. Such could be agility, learning for turbulent market environments while authority and results could work for stable fairly predictable environments.
  2. Identify, select and develop leaders aligned to the desired culture: since culture is driven from the top, organizations should identify staff who understand and are aligned with the desired who could drive and become
    pillars of the desired culture. These individuals shape the environment desired for results to be achieved.
  3. Facilitate deliberate and informal conversations about the need to evolve culture: such culture influences practices and affects individuals, facilitating formal and informal conversations is important to win everyone
    to change behavior and gain alignment. These conversations should permeate from top to bottom of the organization.
  4. Remodeling organizational Design: this may be necessary to align authorities, responsibilities, accountabilities, decision rights, information flows, rewards and sanctions frameworks to facilitate entrenchment of the
    new culture.

Our work at PKL have indicated that this is normally the most difficult part as it involves ceasing normal behaviors and adopting sometimes new ways of thinking and doing things. Since human beings are creatures of habits, the CEO and Board Chairpersons must be alert and courageous to defend the new way of thinking and new prescribed behaviors, from the Board to Floor workers.

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