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  • Writer's pictureMarc Breetzke, M.A., M.A.

Three cultural components that are tough to change

In my last post, I described WHY businesses have such a hard time proceeding with transformation efforts. This week, we are going to explore three components of corporate culture that represent the main obstacles in cultural shifts, and how we can proceed, regardless.

For an outsider who sporadically takes a look inside a variety of companies it may appear obvious, for the teams themselves it often remains a mystery: "how the heck can we change that?" "Why do some people seem to be so stubborn?" "We seem to take one step ahead and two step backwards, what can we do?" If you have ever been in a severe Change-situation or in a Transformation-crisis, these thoughts probably are familiar. Here are three aspects you want to take care of in order to make headway.

What location is to real-estate, is communication to transformation.

There are three central question you want to repeatedly(!) answer over and over again: What we do, why we do it, and how we do it. Giving all necessary information to create new levels of performance is essential to nurturing the desired change. Results are: clarity, orientation and a feeling of certainty in regards to the tasks and challenges at hand.

Communicate what to do, why we do it, and how we do it. Rinse and repeat.

Change spreads only by multipliers. Nothing multiplies progress like leading by example.

Change most effectively happens if it can trickle down from the top. If CEOs, owners and key stakeholders are the leading edge of new behaviors, the probability of success rises. Here's how they can help: They show it and promote it. This should be the slogan of all managers and leaders throughout the company. The more they are on board with the new vision, the smoother the transformation process is going to run.

Get the management and as many leaders and managers behind the new vision and let them walk the talk.

"What get's measured, get's managed." Peter Drucker

This may be the toughest nut to crack. While it may be easy to measure KPIs that are quantitative in nature like costs or time, others are tougher. How do we measure progress in culture transformation? How do we measure agility or innovation? In order for any business to succeed in tracking these areas it is crucial that you stop being abstract and you begin thinking about behavior you want to see. Once you've defined this behavior you can begin to track it and reward it. Usually, only what's visible gets appreciated. Therefore, having clear visualization and data that demonstrates and shows how progress is made, can be a valuable tool to enhance transformation efforts.

In order to measure success, don't just think in results, think in terms of actions and behaviors that produce the desired outcome. Measure those activities to see (and foresee) your progress.

Do you agree? What is in your opinion the biggest challenge in creating lasting change? We are eager to hear from you, let us know what you think in the comments.

About the author:

Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A. is the founder of MB Inspirations and Europe's leading strategy expert. He works as a consultant, trainer, coach, speaker, and lecturer all over the world for large, international businesses (e.g. Fortune 500) and leaders. He studied Strategic Communications in Germany and in the United States. Today, he operates from his head-office in Stuttgart, Germany.

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