How to affect corporate culture in a meaningful way

[Untitled drawing from 2003 etc.]

[N.B. Harold has a new book out, "Seeking Perpetual Beta".]

So I wrote a wee note to one of my favorite “Culture” thinkers these days, Harold Jarche:

Speaking of the ever-changing nature of work…

1. Culture is a HUGE issue for business now.

2. Most CEOs don’t have a frickin’ clue what to do about it, and it’s keeping them up at night.


Howard kindly wrote back:

My view on culture is that it is an emergent property of all the interactions and behaviours in an organization. I think that if you want to change culture, you have to first change behaviour. Small things, like CEO’s accepting failure on projects, help to create a more open workplace. Changing daily practices, like working out loud, gets people to understand what others are doing. It’s kind of like blogging. We didn’t really become bloggers until we had done it for a while. Supporting communities of practice is another way to change culture. As I like to say, you know you are in a real community of practice when it changes your practice.

The challenge I find is that these changes all take time, practice, feedback & reflection. Few CEO’s have the patience for that. That’s why it’s good to do lots of small things around “culture change”. I like the notion of “trojan mice” which I think is similar to your change management work.

Hope this rambling makes some sense ;)

So there you have it: if you want to affect culture in a meaningful way, you’re going to do it by creating a lot of *little* interventions, not one or two *big* ones.

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