This week’s riff: How long does it take to change an organisation’s culture? I know, for instance, that some businesses invest significant sums in long-term, multi-year cultural change programmes
Yet, in my experience, organisational cultures can be changed rapidly – almost instantaneously – without the need for major initiatives or investments.
The most important player in this process is the leader of the organization: the CEO, the Managing Director, the boss! In the end the culture of any organization – its shared values, beliefs and behaviours – directly reflects what the leader believes is acceptable and preferable.
When I worked for Boots, for example, the arrival of Richard Baker as CEO led to a rapid shift in the pace and commercial focus of the organization. Baker’s appointment took some time to lead to growth. But the business felt very different in just a matter of weeks.
Baker took three key actions in his first 90-days at Boots:
- He created a leadership team that was fully supportive of his approach. He removed some executives who didn’t ‘get it’ and made some internal and external appointments to key positions.
- Baker was very clear about the behaviours he expected from everyone in the organization. He communicated that message directly, widely and consistently. For instance, he sent a memo to his new leadership team setting out six key behaviours he expected, focusing on integrity, pace, togetherness, decisiveness and communication.
- He developed and shared stories about those people in the business that were exemplifying the behaviours he was after, particularly the company’s store managers. As Baker told me, when I interviewed him for my book, First & Fast, “I wanted our store managers to know that they were our heroes!”
What actions could you take to rapidly transform the culture of your team or organization without resorting to a major change programme?
Off The Record: Something Changed by Pulp
Where would I be now if we’d never met?
Would I be singing this song to someone else instead?
I don’t know, but like you said
© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.