Culture and Organisational Change

Businesses have personalities, quirks, brilliant tendencies and some really bad habits. Sometimes you'll want to change them.

Culture’s complex. It frustrates many business leaders because it tends not to follow logical and sequential rules in the same way that many processes and structures do.

It has a habit of resisting attempts at creating change and it’s often said that it takes a long time to reshape culture. Sometimes that’s code for ‘nothing is gonna change until the boss goes’. Or if you happen to be the boss, ‘nothing’s gonna change until x person or y team goes’.

Given how important culture is as an energizer for a business or as an inhibitor of excellence it has to be worth challenging whether re-booting culture is unavoidably hard and slow. On the whole, we think not.

It might help to think of culture as the personality of an organisation. Just as individuals have habits, tendencies, preferences, attitudes and behaviours so do organisations. Like people, organisations will recognise some things that characterise them and what they stand for. Those will generally be things they like and want to accentuate. So the conscious things like name, logos, colours, uniforms and so on are things that teams work and spend money on. But lots of things are in the organisational sub-conscious or even in a blind spot. What are the processes of control, who do the senior managers talk to first (and last), what stories are told to new staff when they join, what traditions get honoured and what ‘unwritten rules’ are enforced. Which rules are routinely ignored?

Mapping and understanding those things is a vital part of deciding whether your organisational culture is helping or hindering you in achieving your goals.

At Mojo, we have experience of working across staff teams and organisational structures to capture those things in a way that enables managers to see the extent to which the culture matches the organisation's goals and context. Given that culture was probably built up in a completely different time and environment it’s rare to find that what was right and appropriate twenty or thirty years ago is still right today.

To talk through your own situation, give us a call. We’ll talk you through our ‘culture mapping’ approach and you can see whether it feels timely and right. But one word of warning; you need to be prepared to listen openly and have a genuine commitment to let go of things that you might find you’re surprisingly bonded to. Without that willingness there is a risk of disappointing people in whom you have created momentum and anticipation simply by starting the conversation.