We are taught about (and I lecture on) the cultural web and this model certainly has relevance when we talk of organisational culture but one thing is missing. What is the evidence of culture? What is the real tangible measure of culture? It has to be behaviour.
Behaviour is the outcome from the inputs of those elements of the cultural web, such as symbols, structures, rituals, values. And when we talk about cultural change we are really meaning behavioural change anyway.
I went to the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Annual Conference in Birmingham on 11th November and was inspired by some of the speakers there. Evan Davis was fantastic as the Chair of the event. And several of the key speakers alluded to using employees as champions of cultural and strategic change. John Smythe, founder of Engage for Change, talked about sharing power and adopting a ‘co-creation’ approach to engagement where employees are involved in decision making and building the strategy (the ‘how are we going to get there’ element). I loved what John had to say because it takes the approach of employees as champions of change, perhaps seeing employees as directors of strategic and cultural change from the ground floor.
John listed five routes to engaging for change:
- Engage the leaders (them as role models)
- Transforming communication
- Build capability
- Identify measures and drivers
Rather like in the hero’s journey (from Joseph Campbell’s amazing book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’), they need a strong ’call to adventure’ to get them bought in to this process. I can see the hero’s journey applying to organisational change where the hero’s journey starts in the ordinary corporate world, and the employee receives a call (a challenge) to enter an unusual world of strange events.
Glenn Manoff from O2 told us the about the O2 story – a massive employee engagement exercise culminating in the opening of the O2 arena. And this gave me some ideas for how to get this call to adventure across. Using an almost trance-like process (akin to Anthony robbins!), a manager cleverly used ‘appreciate inquiry’ as a tool to help people visualise, imagine and connect to a future that is different and more successful than the present. This is exactly like the ‘Imagine If’ sessions in Viral change. It helps people step out of their current frame and put on a new, exciting frame that opens them up to possibility. From here we can use facilitated sessions to elicit ideas and connect to a new reality.
“If you can imagine it,You can achieve it. If you can dream it,You can become it.”
William A. Ward
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Einstein
Internal segmentation of employees is sometimes needed to help target different audiences by attitudes, values and potential behaviour around change. It can be useful in a collaborative change programme. We need to consider the outcome and use this as the basis for the segmentation, otherwise it is meaningless. But as part of this process, which doesn’t have to be onerous, we can ask employees where they can add value and what the likely blocks to success will be. And this is just the start of the co-creation process.