They’re going on in our organizations. A new CEO comes in and presumes that his or her entrance was called for not to perpetuate the agenda of the predecessor, but to fix something – and that generally can only be done by cleaning house. Bad habits, after all, come from bad (or, at least, inappropriate) attitudes – people have to get used to a new way of doing business around here.
That’s how many new bosses come in: they step into the corner office, then pull the rug out from under everyone. Next on the agenda? Complain about resistance to change, and start firing people who “don’t get it.”
But the “don’t get it” roles are often reversed, here. Culture doesn’t come from policy directives. It is an interlaced set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that have evolved in order to adapt to the environment the company lives in.
Cultures can indeed become maladapted, but they cannot become non-evolutionary. The new one has to come from the shoes the company’s employees walk in – not from the CEO who presumes to own the carpet they walk on.
Please see this week’s excellent WSJ In the Lead column by Carol Hymowitz. She offers brief analyses of two contrasting ways to go about renewing a company’s culture to meet evident or anticipated changes in the competitive environment. These are based on rather interesting culture-change initiatives underway (or, perhaps, pending) right now in major US companies.
Efforts to revive or renew company cultures so that they meet some need the wider environment presents should be planned and effected in collaboration with those in the company who interact with that environment, and who will be touched by its repercussions. Careful consultation with staff, and even some of those who represent key non-organizational influences, will enrich and inform the agenda of any CEO who is engaged in such an enterprise, as well as enlist the support of those affected by it.
Thanks for stopping by, today. If you enjoyed your visit, please take a moment to subscribe, so you can visit again in the future from the convenience of your email client or RSS reader.