“Culture is an emergent property of the many practices that happen every day. Change the practices and a new culture will emerge.” – Harold Jarche
I always thought Harold nailed it with this quote, showing equally how obvious yet how difficult organizational culture change can be.But where, when and how does change start? Is it through a huge strategy and subsequent tactics or is it smaller, more individualized, gradual. Practices are the actions we undertake and the behaviors we exhibit. Everything from how we conduct meetings, organize project teams, or decide how long to stand with a colleague talking over a cup of coffee. All are practices that make up our culture. Words to are practices as they are deliberate actions; thoughts transmitted. In the organizational learning subculture the words course and training are unfortunately defaulted to when people who don’t understand them toss them around as THE solution to work performance problem. So if the words change does the related practice follow and then the culture shifts? Are words then the spark to ignite the potential change to come?
For me, each and every opportunity where the cry of “we need training” or a “we should have a course on xyz…” is raised I swoop into performance consultant mode and probe to determine the nature and significance of the issue and remind them for example that a PowerPoint deck is NOT in and of itself Training. I’m relentless to the point where my staff asked me if I have a template of my responses. I’m also confident that on the other end of the call or email, eyes have rolled.
Recently though a key leader responded in an email to my typical inquiries with the words “training” and “course”…
The words were in quotes.
I sensed some subtraction by addition with these quotes bracketing the terms. Maybe it was an element of uncertainty, a glimpse into his internal questioning. However possibly he only wrote it that way to stave off my railing against training first, training always. Regardless, he was singling out the terms as being different than the definition. He was unsure what the solution was but used the only terms he knew with a subtle punctuational caveat.
Maybe this then is the trigger, the first practice to change in an organizational culture – Words shared, one conversation at a time.
As I launched my campaign to yet again run a 1/2 marathon and begin a training regiment that will involve early morning runs in the heart of winter, my wife encouraged me to join Method 360, an exercise class she’s been attending several times a week to strengthen her core and improve he overall fitness.
She has, for lack of a better word, become hooked.
So I joined. After my 4th visit I could see that the owner/ instructor, Trish Gallen had nailed the recipe for motivation that Daniel Pink identified in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Autonomy – Mastery – Purpose
The elements are present to maintain my motivation; control, growing success, and a goal.
The structure of the classes surely meets the 3 points above but now that I know this, can’t I just do this all on my own? No. The one element not included here is that which ties them all together – Social, which in my opinion is critical. Don’t confuse this with just being around other people who share a common goal and some rah-rah. Social is being human and all the “real” that comes with it. Trish and her instructors connect with those in class; sincerely. Its nothing they do intentionally, they just show their humanity by sharing their stories, making mistakes, they laugh at themselves, they’re open and transparent. Sure they know more than any in there about exercise but they listen, inquire and want to improve. It’s a connected experience.
- When formal course development is warranted are we involving the learners in the process?
- Are we designing to “their” goals as well as that of the organization?
- Is instruction encouraging and helping them see even incremental success?
- Is failure treated as a part of the learning process?
- Are we offering alternatives to the traditional course model? Blended, performance support, coaching, mentoring, networking.
What about in the use of internal collaborative tools?
- Are certain behaviors being demanded or do people have the time and space to experiment and learn?
- Do they have a voice to express their concerns, fears, needs?
- Are business results noted and shared or are we caught up in counting likes and shares, uploads and views?
- Is the purpose clear? Is the tool helping them solve a problem specific to them?
- Is Be Human a key component to adoption and use
Speaking of exercise I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that I run for charity. Any donation amount (really, any!) will go a long way for me to help fellow Central New Yorkers and the Upstate Medical Foundation. Check out my donation site and please spread the word and or give what you can. Thank you!