27
Jul
09

Can you really implement change?

change-exit-signCompanies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.
Culture shifts are much like the Venus Flytrap. They entice you in with the promise better times, growth and profits until you’re so engaged – it then slams shut and devours you. I’m sure that any leader that attempted a full-blown culture shift will agree with this analogy.
Don’t despair. You can successfully navigate a culture shift – if you’re prepared and understand the dynamics that are involved.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to help you successfully complete a culture shift:
* Culture shifts take time – a lot of time: The amount of time your culture shift will take is based on on three factors:
1. You: Your ability to relentlessly communicate, stay focused and stay the course.
2. The size and complexity of your company: This includes layers of management, departments, divisions and the geographical nature of your company, such as multiple locations or multinational operations.
3. The current state of your company and its culture: Specifically, the more out of balance your business is with respect to The Four Business Outcomes, the more energy and time it will take to move it through a culture shift to no compromise.
* You must be committed to go the distance: It could take 12 to 24 months to completely shift a culture. Repeat: 12 to 24 months. If you’re looking for a quick-fix culture shift strategy, forget it – it doesn’t exist. You must be committed 100% to see this through. A 99% commitment is enough wiggle room to cause it to fail.
* Not everyone is going to survive the shift: Change resisters will get on board, quit or be relieved of their obligation to work for your company. If you allow them to stay, you’re compromising and compromise at the leadership level kills culture shifts.
* Small wins add up: Lots of small wins build momentum and unity in a culture. Celebrate even the smallest of wins. The more you celebrate, the faster the shift.
* Sense of urgency: You can’t shift a culture without it. Find it. Fuel it. Relentlessly drive it.
Caution: I’ve seen companies make wonderful culture-shift strides in a matter of months. However, too many leaders misinterpret these rapid and positive “strides” as being farther along in the culture shift than they actually are. Such misinterpretations can cause you to ease up on the urgency factor far too soon, causing the culture shift to stall. Once stalled, it’s extremely difficult to get a culture shift moving again. It’s simply human nature for old, comfortable behaviors to snap back in a heartbeat when discipline and focus are compromised.
Recommendation: In my book, No-Compromise Leadership, I devote an entire section to “navigating the culture shift to no compromise.” It even includes an 18-month timeline of “must do’s” and “what you should see.” Read it before you hit the launch button.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

change-exit-signCompanies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.

Culture shifts are much like the Venus Flytrap. They entice you in with the promise better times, growth and profits until you’re so engaged – it then slams shut and devours you. I’m sure that any leader that attempted a full-blown culture shift will agree with this analogy.

Don’t despair. You can successfully navigate a culture shift – if you’re prepared and understand the dynamics that are involved.

Here are some no-compromise strategies to help you successfully complete a culture shift:

  • Culture shifts take time – a lot of time: The amount of time your culture shift will take is based on on three factors:
    1. You: Your ability to relentlessly communicate, stay focused and stay the course.
    2. The size and complexity of your company: This includes layers of management, departments, divisions and the geographical nature of your company, such as multiple locations or multinational operations.
    3. The current state of your company and its culture: Specifically, the more out of balance your business is with respect to The Four Business Outcomes, the more energy and time it will take to move it through a culture shift to no compromise.
  • You must be committed to go the distance: It could take 12 to 24 months to completely shift a culture. Repeat: 12 to 24 months. If you’re looking for a quick-fix culture shift strategy, forget it – it doesn’t exist. You must be committed 100% to see this through. A 99% commitment is enough wiggle room to cause it to fail.
  • Not everyone is going to survive the shift: Change resisters will get on board, quit or be relieved of their obligation to work for your company. If you allow them to stay, you’re compromising and compromise at the leadership level kills culture shifts.
  • Small wins add up: Lots of small wins build momentum and unity in a culture. Celebrate even the smallest of wins. The more you celebrate, the faster the shift.
  • Sense of urgency: You can’t shift a culture without it. Find it. Fuel it. Relentlessly drive it.

Caution: I’ve seen companies make wonderful culture-shift strides in a matter of months. However, too many leaders misinterpret these rapid and positive “strides” as being farther along in the culture shift than they actually are. Such misinterpretations can cause you to ease up on the urgency factor far too soon, causing the culture shift to stall. Once stalled, it’s extremely difficult to get a culture shift moving again. It’s simply human nature for old, comfortable behaviors to snap back in a heartbeat when discipline and focus are compromised.

Recommendation: In my book, No-Compromise Leadership, I devote an entire section to “navigating the culture shift to no compromise.” It even includes an 18-month timeline of “must do’s” and “what you should see.” Read it before you hit the launch button.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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1 Response to “Can you really implement change?”


  1. 1 dilipnaidu
    February 25, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Some very interesting thoughts on change and culture. I wish to add a quote by Mahatama Gandhi that I believe has much meaning in a change process – “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Cheers


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