An 11-step approach to changing culture

In the past decade, an increasing number of companies have attempted to make significant changes in the way they manage their businesses. In a world where rapid change has become the norm, a variety of forces have driven organisations to alter their structures and practices and often to tackle the monumental task of changing their culture.

The decision to make fundamental changes in the organisation is frequently a response to a need to adapt to powerful external or internal change triggers. These include the rapid pace of technology and innovation, more aggressive competition, fundamental changes in industries and markets, deregulation, a more diverse workforce, increased organisational complexity, mergers and acquisitions, and escalating customer expectations.

In addition, globalisation has created economic interdependence and has opened up new markets, new competition and new opportunities. It has also created new threats. Organisations have therefore been forced to make dramatic responses in order to survive.

Evolutionary theory applies

Like other organisms, organisations need to adapt to their environment or they’ll become extinct. Darwin’s evolutionary theory applies to the evolution of all species, including business organisations. According to Darwin, “It is not necessarily the strongest or the most intelligent who survive, but those that can adapt and change.”

The changes required differ in degree and scope, ranging from incremental adjustments to major transformations. Incremental changes occur within the context of existing organisational structures, systems and practices. Transformations require fundamental changes and realignments in order to put the organisation and culture in sync with new realities and a new strategy.

Changes in structure and practices are relatively easy to accomplish. Changes in culture are far more difficult and complex. This article outlines a systematic process that an organisation can utilise to make major changes in its culture.

Step 1:
Understand the forces that will influence your future strategy

Review the internal and external forces that are impacting your business. Then ask yourself if any of these forces necessitate changes in the organisation’s strategy. Finally, assess the degree and scope of the adaptations that will be required.

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