Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

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You may consider yourself a change agent.  Let’s face it.  If you are a CIO who recently took over the helm of an organization, you probably see significant opportunities for change.  Let’s face it again; if you are a CIO who has been at the helm for some time, you also see significant opportunities for change.  Change is constant.  In technology, change is more than constant.

So how do you deal making necessary changes at your organization?  It may be easy for you to have a clear vision about the future and how your organization needs to adapt but how do you convince your people to follow that vision?

Culture is the glue or fabric that keeps your organization together is some known way.  Yes, much of it was designed but much of it grew organically around that design (I thought I would double check my definition and found this reference from an HBR article from 2013:  Given the many notions about what culture is, I’m sure there are many opinions about how to promote change within an organization and deal with the culture at the same time.

My take is that you cannot ignore culture.  Doing so will be to deny that culture has an influence on how your place works and there is very little disagreement on that.  Your change initiatives should:

  • respect your existing culture and not cast dispersions on how things are done
    • after all, your people will be proud of their work and any criticism to the organization can be taken personally as an affront to their work identity
  • understand how culture supports or hinders your plans
  • who your change agents and influencers are and how can you influence them to be part of your change
  • be specific when you have to be but let your people have as much say as possible as to how to get things done and even in the design

As in much of my posts and ideas expressed, there are exceptions.  We live in a time of exceptions in many realms, not the least of which is the political realm.  General wisdom has been demonstrated to be wholly wrong and disrupted by “rule breakers”.  So who knows, take all of this and make what of it you will or throw it all out the window and create your own rules.  Have fun.

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