Many of us are watching the unfolding drama that is the real-time disintegration of Twitter, as both platform and organization. It is a spectacular example of culture being destroyed after a change in leadership. While Twitter is cultural destruction on a very large scale, the same challenges play out in organizations all the time, particularly as leadership changes. Culture is hard to build and easy to destroy. How do you recover from a cultural stumble?
I have been a consultant working inside organizations for three decades and more. In that time, I have been involved in the creation of numerous methodologies and practices, and the implementation of many organizational change efforts. I have described myself as an organizational consultant of some variety or other. So you might reasonably assume that I consider my clients to be the organizations that I serve. You couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ve long argued that organizational practices need to be adapted to an organization if they are going to be effective. They need to fit the culture, and make sense in the way that the organization works. But what happens when you do all the right things, push all the right buttons, and the practices don’t get used? A curious case study.
I had a meeting with a prospective client the other day. The opportunity was to provide some training and facilitation with their executive team to help prepare them for the implementation of a new set of organizational project management practices. To anyone that knows me, this certainly has the prospect of being something of interest. […]
Change is a process. And while it is a difficult one, it doesn’t need to be quite so painful and messy as what we often experience. Better navigating change requires recognizing that most of the transition happens in the space between what was and what will become. We need to let go, and be guided through that transition. That requires rethinking some of what we know and believe about projects and change.
Culture change is hard. And we would prefer not to deal with the hard stuff. All too often, we want to be able to define what we expect, and have behaviours and culture norms to line up behind that. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Cultural transition is possible, but process doesn’t drive culture. Although culture will determine what process is possible.