Lessons learnt from four different cultural change journeys

No less than four of my clients are currently in the middle of a significant cultural shift in their organisation.

Two clients are in the visioning stages of what they’d like their culture to be like. An exciting time to reflect on what has made the organisation successful to date; and build on those characteristics – but with an eye firmly on the future.  The lesson for these organisations is to link their visioning work firmly with their strategic planning processes. Where does the organisation want to be in 5-7 years time? What sort of culture is going to support achieving that? How does this impact on current structures, processes, people etc.

For one client, they are some way into the journey & it’s got slightly messy. This is a good lesson that change is not linear. There are ups and downs. Steps back and forth. Real, sustainable change happens having worked through this cycle and come out the other side – always with your eye on the end goal.

And finally, a client who has been presented with a one off set of difficult circumstances that provide extraordinary opportunity. The lesson here is not to be bogged down in the detail and the trickiness of the current situation but to handle that with courage and certainty whilst looking to the future. It takes a strong leader to keep an eye clearly on the situation at hand, but with one eye to the future and the opportunities this presents.

The common factors in all four organisations: a strong, courageous leader who can keep going when things get difficult;  the ability to see how things “could be around here“; and finally, an understanding of the very clear link between culture and the performance of the business.

Are you working in an organisation that is going through cultural change? Where is your organisation on this spectrum? Any lessons you can share from your experiences and the leadership?

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