Saturday, September 4, 2010

Culture Change--Step 2

All the steps to transforming corporate culture are interrelated, of course, and form a journey--as if to prove the old Chinese proverb about traveling a thousand miles. Many of them seem to cycle back to another, or augment an earlier step. However, the journey goes, it starts now and wherever you are.

Many of the transformational methodologies insist on management involvement or, worse yet, initiation. Many authors and consultants insist that no implementation of improvement strategies start without the support of upper management.


Step 2 is recognizing that you can begin transformational change from a single department, and it doesn't even require being the departmental manager. I call this "Guerrilla Change" after the war campaign tactic of indirect confrontation.

How can a person in one department of a large corporation start a transformational corporate cultural change? By starting at step 1: practice the corporate values you want to see, i.e. "walk the talk" and recognize that all elements of the corporation and corporate processes are interrelated.

Stephen Covey taught us that highly effective people (and they do not have to be the official leaders of the corporation) recognize that they have choices. They understand the foundational principles and they understand that they are response-able. They know they have choices. They can be proactive.

Obviously, corporate change is easier and takes less time in a small business or corporation in one single location. It can happen in large corporations. One work team becomes excellent, then one department, then one location, then one branch, one business unit, one division, and so on until the whole corporation. Change in one person ripples to another and this is what makes corporate change possible. The more visible the person is, like the President or CEO, the faster the ripples occur. However, ripples still get out there from the custodian or single technician or particular customer service rep.

I know. I've created it from exactly those small beginnings.

Step 2 is recognizing that you shouldn't give up. You are making a difference, even though others may not fall in step and join the parade yet. One other person will. Soon two more, than four, eight, sixteen; the progression will be contagious.

Some will give you credit. If you're an formally recognized leader, they will. If not, a few people will and others will just know it's happening but not how it started. That's okay. Someday, the corporation will operate in a manner that everyone will enjoy and the success can be enjoyed.

The community will start to take notice. The business world will start to take notice. Your recognition will come when you share that you work there. When you describe how you contribute to the organizational success--practicing the steps to corporate change, "walking the talk", etc.--they'll want you on their team.

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