5 Basic Building Blocks for Creating Culture
Are you tired of going to work every day? Do you wish you could change “the way things are done” in your organization?
Everywhere you turn today, you can hear the Gallup Poll about disengaged employees, the cost to corporations, and the need to change more than just people, you need to change the entire culture, but most of us don’t even know how to begin a culture change in our organizations. Moreover, many of us don’t believe we are in the position to make sweeping cultural changes. After all, most of us are not CEO’s or VP’s.
Thorough out history, cultural changes are not the result of grand conquests, but of small changes made over time, and with a few basic building blocks, anyone can create a new culture in their organization.
Block 1: An Authentic Leader
A cultural change needs someone who embodies the new culture in all that they do. The more they are challenged and maintain the integrity of the new culture the more impact they will have. However, positive cultural change will continually battle against negative culture. Interestingly, the second law of thermodynamics seems to apply to culture, in that negative culture will simply take over if no one stands against it.
If you want to begin to see positive change in your organization, you must embody the change and be ready to stand.
Block 2: A Tribe of Champions
Changes don’t happen in a vacuum, and lasting change only happens when a group binds together to make it happen. The good news is that only about 3% of an organization needs to join in the change to bring about change throughout the entire organization. A 10% change will be almost unstoppable.
So, you need to figure out what size group of champions will it take to change an entire culture. If the group is larger than 12, you made need to start with a smaller change. In a large organization you may need to start with a team, then a division, then the organization.
Jesus changed the world with 12 men, but they started in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then they moved to the uttermost parts of the world.
Cultural change can’t be the work of one champion, but it can be the work of an authentic leader of a small tribe of champions.
Block 3: A Unique Story
Why does the change you want to bring about need to happen? Why are the champions sold out? What is so compelling that you would all die on this hill?
Simon Sinek has grown very popular promoting the idea that a strong enough “Why?” is the key to every great change, but the “Why?” must come with a convincing story, that others will want to be a part of.
Block 4: Powerful Language
Words have meaning. Words matter. More importantly, words repeated again and again move people to a new way of thinking. As a Martial Arts Instructor, I have used certain words and phrases so many times, that the motion of my hands can now illicit a response of words from my students after only a few weeks in my dojo.
If you want to bring cultural change, your new tribe will need its own language, not to separate it from others, but to invite them into a new direction by its use. You may need to reimagine common words or even create new words entirely.
My organization uses the title “Relationship Samurai” to define someone who is an expert and teacher in the art of relationship. Dave Ramsey invented the term Entreleadership. Either way, the language must be compelling, drawing others to its influence.
Block 5: A Defined Enemy
We all have fears, shared fears and enemies can draw people together like few other stimuli. When we define an enemy we are all striving to defeat, we can set a direction and a plan to defeat that enemy.
Everyone who joins the movement can know what to fight, even if they aren’t sure of their own role in the fight. We find our own unique value in taking down common enemies. Whether it is cynicism, obesity, negativity, or any other of a million foes, we must define the one we will eliminate together, and others will rally to our cause.
When you get these building blocks in place, you are ready to bring positive change to any organization, no matter how big or daunting the task may seem and no matter how small you may feel. Wake up tomorrow and make the world better.