Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For all the talk about culture

Many organizational change jobs are about changing the 'culture'. I've seen a few definitions of what 'culture' is, some are complicated and others are simple. There are a few that consider a number of indicators and others that define 'culture' in a single sentence, usually something like:

"Culture is the way we do THINGS around here."

My working definition of 'culture' is similar:

"Culture is the way we do PEOPLE around here."

That's where I think it should begin. Just by looking at the way we treat each other in our organisation. If we change that, then we might not have to change anything else.
On the other hand if our processes, structures and other THINGS prevent us from treating each other well, then we should look at changing those too.

No easy answers - it's not change the people OR change the structure, but I still think that the litmus test for culture is how we treat each other.

Friday, November 23, 2007

short-term management

I was scanning my rss feed and from the BBC I saw "Airbus fears 'weak-dollar' death" - the weak dollar is threatening the survival of the European planemaker Airbus, its chief executive says.

So how long - really - has the dollar been weak? And so what? Is this company really so threatened by the short-term?

How come there are so many managers/executives blaming external circumstances so quickly for what might in reality be internal problems?

What really gets my goat is that if these guys had been properly strategic a weak dollar might have been part of their outlook for some time. I've been hearing predictions of it for at least 5 years.

The real question they need to ask themselves is along the lines of -

'Just how well have we fulfilled our responsibility to the company, employees and shareholders of building strength and resilience into operations?'

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Culture is

Culture is mass behaviour. Look at 'Herd' to explain what the key mechanic of mass behaviour is - it's how we influence each other. Change the way we influence each other, what we influence each other about, and you change culture (organizational).
Link this to 'Managing without Leadership' - organisations keep performing whether they have a strong leader, a weak leader, or no leader at all. (This means leadership as traditionally defined; a position like manager or CEO.)
This is how organisations really work. Not like an organisational chart, nor even like according to a social network analysis which often a snapshot at another level. Influence comes and goes. One person is not more influential than another all the time. They are just more influential at that time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Myth of Organizational Change

There's a big myth about organizational change and here it is: that organizations change.

Organizations don't change; people change organizations.

I believe it's important to be quite clear on this. Particularly clear.

The consequences of not being crystal clear are pretty simple - like the consequences of living under any other delusion - you'll be worse off after than before, even if you continue in denial.

So think carefully before blithely launching into any 'change management' initiative.

During your planning how are you representing where the organization will be to yourselves, how are you talking about it?

If you are describing an organization transformed through the introduction of this technology or that new process, more measurement and reporting or better administration and control, then beware (be aware). The same applies if you're placing your bets on defining a mission, vision and strategy.

[Be aware and beware, too, of consultants who talk like this!]

It's not rocket science.

Only people change organizations.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

JDYFJ - The Latest Management Fad

Thanks to Nick at Nearing Zero for coming up with a management approach that just might work in the long term!

I'm thinking about recommending this new approach to one client's management team.

It's actually a simple enough, if novel, proposition to base a change management initiative on. Everyone should be able to understand it without the need to rely on outside experts.

The implementation might be a little tricky. I suspect it might start with facilitating real communication. You know, the type of communication that can happen when people come face-to-face and start to relate to each other as humans with a common purpose, rather than just as functions in a process.

Who knows how much talent, creativity, innovation and energy might be released using this novel insight?

Who knows just how much better each of us might be able to do our fricking jobs?

Maybe that's what we're afraid of? (a bit of reverse psychology)

[go to Nick's site: www.nearingzero.net. It's worth the trip.]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Am I a Failed Blogger?

I've often wondered why I don't blog more.

Listening to the advice of many of those who advocate using blogs as a marketing tool, I'm committing a cardinal sin. Some say the idea is to blog, blog, blog just as the traditional approach might be to advertise, advertise, advertise. Otherwise people (prospective clients?) might forget that I am out there. Sort of a shotgun approach, I suppose, but I'm reminded of the old saw about money spent on advertising - only 50% of it is effective ... the trouble is you can't tell which 50%.

There are others who look at blogging as a relationship tool. It's important to blog, blog, blog because otherwise your readers won't trust you. Well, maybe ... at least before RSS. With RSS the situation seems to me to have changed. There are some blogs I have sitting on my RSS feed that don't post all that often, but when they do it's similar to the feeling I have when an old friend gets in touch. I mightn't hear from them every day but when I do hear from them I know it will be worth it. And there are other blogs from people I like and admire, but gee sometimes I wish they would not say so much. Once again, thanks for RSS.

It seems a shame to me to have to fill up the bandwidth with whatever simply because it is there and we can. More consumerism?

When I go into the blogosphere, it's like I go into myself. How else could it be with all the millions of blogs out there? And, in a respectful (of myself), almost mindful approach, I'm hoping for something deeper. I'm not saying that this is the best approach, or the preferred approach. Just that it is what I'm comfortable with at the moment.

I like what Barbara Kingsolver said:

Nonfiction requires enormous discipline. You construct the terms of your story, and then you stick to them. "Because it really happened" is the worst reason to write anything, leading directly to ramshackle prose and the painful American custom of oversharing. I suppose 10,000 bloggers would disagree with me on that point. Perhaps here we've hit upon the distinction between blogger and author.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Importance of People at Work

I'm still thinking about the real importance of work, following the suicide of someone at my wife's work. It was the second suicide from the same unit in a year, although the other person did it at home.

My thinking has lead me to ask the question, "What is the importance of people at work?", because my wife told me that she had heard about two disturbing comments from people higher up the hierarchy than the victims.

The comments were along the lines of "Well, there are a lot of people working here, so you would expect something like this to happen," and "It happens everywhere."

I'm sorry but I don't expect things like suicide to happen at work, and it's never happened at any other place I've worked at.

The cynic in my is expecting an official response of barring all windows to prevent jumping, and insisting that all new facilities be ground level.

I'm still left with the question - What is the importance of people at work?