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  • Jim Nicholls

Now is the time to consciously change your organisation's culture

Updated: Jun 9




With many organisations focussed upon implementing business continuity, resilience plans and plainly trying to survive, it is natural for leaders to focus on dealing with the unfolding global events and how to adapt to them. The time to strategically think about how to improve organisation efficiency and effectiveness typically goes out of the window!


As someone who, on the 28th January 2020, started their own business, the aspiration of 'helping friends with their people and organisation challenges', has stayed just that! The positive conversations, the talk of possibilities and opportunities building momentum nicely towards my first paid gigs has, for now, been put on hold. Picking up 'when all this stuff' has been and gone, when we get back to normal. I don't believe we're going to go back to normal, systemic human global change is happening at pace and everywhere. Now is the opportunity to make conscious decisions on your organisation's culture, benefitting society, clients and your people.


Digitisation of global economies and industries has been accelerated, business model rule books have been ripped up and remote flexible working has been introduced overnight. Furthermore, attitudes, behaviours, ways of working for leaders, managers and frontline workers has all been reset, mostly unconsciously and through necessity. What if we now take this opportunity to reimagine our business cultures?


The Cultural Web, developed by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, provides an approach for looking at and changing business culture. By considering each of the six elements, cultural assumptions can be considered and consciously realigned to the organisation's 'new normal' strategy. Consciously combining these six elements will help define a unique winning culture.


Organistional Stories are usually the past events the are preserved in the inductions of many companies. They are the events that have shaped 'how we do things around here' and help shape behaviours and attitudes. Now new stories are being created in response to current events, how are these being captured? People in every organisation are going to great lengths; putting in huge amounts of discretionary help benefiting their local society, trading partners, their organisation and their friends. Much of which has been undertaken voluntarily. These are the new stories to build a new culture around.


The ritual and routines for all organisations has changed. What now is considered acceptable behaviour is very different, presenteeism is no longer possible, adding value is the currency valued by management. Recognising and rewarding those adding value, sharing their stories so that others can role model is key.


Symbolism will be impacted, office surroundings irrelevant, driving the importance of online presence, through Zoom, Teams, FaceTime etc. Professional relationships are seeing the many back bedrooms / home offices people work from. Dress codes becoming unimportant, as positive human connection the imperative rather than veneer. Organisational authenticity and social responsibility integral to meeting future customer needs.


The defined organisational structures less relevant as the unwritten relational power and influence systems indicate the contribution value. Virtual meetings focussed upon the critical agenda items that drive improved etiquette of punctual starts and finishing in a quarter of the usual time. Productivity increasing and operational costs being naturally slashed.


The ever present control systems now acutely focussed on risk mitigation, organisational alignment an imperative bringing the leaders and those customer facing teams closer together. Recognition and reward being truly understood and valued by all.


The pockets of real power become self evident, influencing decision making, operational tactics and strategic direction. The transparency and clarity of these accountabilities create effective power structures enabling organisation flexibility and agility, all occurring within a month.


To consciously change, we need to understand the 'as is' and 'to be'. Diagnostic tools such as the pragmatic Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) help organisations to effect cultural change by providing a common language, an ability to involve people at all levels based upon quantitative and qualitative data to foster the process of cultural change.


So rather than a new culture emerging from the remnants of the 'old normal' with unconscious practise that has emerged in the 'new normal'; typically a combination of poor, best and new. Consciously assess where you are now and where you want to be, involving and recognising the people that brought so much value in the organisation's time of need, can only strengthen and differentiate your business in the new world order.


If you'd like to know more please contact me to discuss your needs and how I can help. 



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J B Nicholls | Organisation Culture Specialist | ©2020