Listen to Gen Holmes - Building Cultural Change

Listen to Gen Holmes - Building Cultural Change

Please listen to Gen Holmes in LaaD Podcast #9.  There is a lot of good advice in the podcast, but this article will focus only on one part ‐‐ the discussion about building lasting change.

I believe the only way to build lasting change is to anchor it within the organization’s culture. This is because ‘culture’ encompasses the behavior and norms of the organization. Thus, lasting change can only be achieved by making it the new ‘norm’. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Cultural change is a difficult and long process
    • Officers change position often, so typically you can only hope to affect incremental change
    • The larger the change, the more time it takes because humans are creatures of habit and generally resist change
  • Start as early as possible and temper your ambition relative to the time available
    • If your vision is not attainable within your time in leadership, you have to keep in mind that each leader has their own priorities which may not align with yours after you leave
For those who don’t have their own process, here is a systematic technique taught during Intermediate Developmental Education (IDE):

Kotter’s 8‐Step Change Model
  • Step One: Create Urgency
  • Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition
  • Step Three: Create a Vision for Change
  • Step Four: Communicate the Vision
  • Step Five: Remove Obstacles
  • Step Six: Create Short‐Term Wins
  • Step Seven: Build on the Change
  • Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
I won't spend time explaining the whole model because it is a popular academic model that can be found online. However, I will provide some insights.

All the steps are important, but the first two steps are the most important because it will be impossible to achieve subsequent steps without the following:

  • Strong reason for change (create urgency)
  • Strong support (form a powerful coalition – get buy‐in from powerful influencers)
    • Powerful influencers can be identified through listening, observing, and asking
    • Do not assume that a position of authority will pull people into your coalition
    • Organizations have techniques to resist change
      • Stall until there is a regime change or pretend to acquiesce (time is on their side)
      • Build a more powerful coalition to resist change
    • The key component for success is trust. It is amazing how fast things happen with trust and if people trust you then building a coalition should be easy.

Focus on short‐term wins because it will prove that your vision is attainable and build the foundation for anchoring change

Hopefully this article helped inspire techniques for building lasting change.

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