Arthur Carmazzi – Organizational Change: Why Culture Change Doesn’t Work
Part 1 of how to change an Organizational Culture in 80 Days
By: Arthur Carmazzi
Traditionally the concept of changing an organizational culture has been long and tedious, and for over 70% of organizations who have tried… unsuccessful (according to a 2006 Gallup study). The primary reason for failure is lack of follow through, most organizational culture change initiatives fail because the people involved, don’t see results fast enough and they get discouraged, and thus do not follow through. The worst part is, that when it doesn’t work, people get jaded, and the next time a change initiative comes about, they already have a presupposition that it will not work, dooming it from the start. So if it doesn’t work… Why Change? Because we do want change, but we want change that supports our goals, dreams, and the greater success we could have in our organizations. The barriers to change are emotional, the need to feel that the actions we are taking will have a result, a meaning, and we are not just doing “Stupid Stuff” that wastes our time.
The Arthur Carmazzi organizational change process identifies that much of the problem in organizational change initiatives lies in the traditional culture change methods: Change policy to change actions, Change actions to change behavior, Change behavior to change habits, Change habits to change attitude. And since attitude is the last to be affected, everything else before that seems like… “Stupid Stuff” that just makes life more difficult. So why do many CEOs and consultants still believe changing culture MUST take years when those same processes fail over and over again? Well, because that’s the way it’s always been done. But there is a better way.
At the Speed of Change:
The reality is that Fast Change with the right processes and maintenance system for sustainability is the better strategy. Why… because fast organizational change gives employees the instant emotional gratification for them to build on success. But there are pitfalls…
- Senior management must be involved, if there is no buy in from senior management, the process will not work
- Senior management should not be control freaks, they will need to let go and set only guidelines, NOT detailed results
- The process must get everyone involved, which means that there will be a disruption in the work flow for a 2 to 3 week period (based on the DC Revolution Culture Change Program and depending on the company/division size) where people will be spending 2 to 3 hours every other day with this process. (Timing is based on company or divisions from 200 to 1000 employees).
- The culture process must be nurtured for at least 80 days. This requires additional time resources from senior management.
- Some people may need to be fired as a means to enforce culture standards
If these 5 factors are in place, an organization has the potential to sculpt an organizational culture with a very strong foundation for success… EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT in the change initiative!
Fast change provides small emotional and tactical wins that motivate the next step. And each “next step” provides a platform for the next until the group has already set their own rules and “Guiding Principles” and started to live by them within “THEIR” culture.
Sustainability of a structured culture owned by the employees who are motivated to make change is much easier to sustain than one created and handed down by management. And with management providing guidelines to the type of culture from the beginning, i.e. innovation culture, brand focused culture, leadership enriched culture… everybody wins!