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Are you wasting time and money on culture and leadership programs?


According to a 2013 culture and change management survey by Booz & co, 96% of businesses believe that culture change is needed. According to McKinsey and co, 70% of all change initiatives fail.


There’s a lot of money and energy being spent on culture and leadership “programs” thinking they are a magic bullet that will “fix” the culture. It’s no different than hiring someone to run a half day workshop on bullying and thinking it will stop bullying. Training is only one part of a complex puzzle, yet we are using this small jig saw piece and trying to understand the whole picture.


Here’s a big tip before I go into the solution.


A half day investment into training, even a two day training program run by a brilliant trainer, won’t change your culture.


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news because I know that you’ve spent thousands and thousands on training that hasn’t worked. It’s not the training. It’s the change management plan, or lack of one should I say, that is the missing link.


If you want to transform your culture then keep reading because there are specific actions you need to take to make it happen.


Another quick tip before the detail. This is going to take time and investment.


Culture change can happen quickly if you invest everything you’ve got into it and take swift deliberate action. Depending on where your culture is now and what you want, expect this to take minimum 2 years of consistent work for real change to occur.


This is why 70% of change programs fail. Most give up and move onto another shiny object after 6 months.


It’s a real commitment of time and energy. From my experience and research what you need for change is:


1: true leadership commitment
2: realistic goals and plans
3: a realistic budget of money and time
4: clear evidence based information and data about current state
5: the courage to take deliberate action and make the changes necessary.
6: change agents driving the change and keeping the businesses optimistic (one of these people must be the CEO)
7: and most importantly, a real belief that change is possible.


If you are committed. Here is the step by step process towards culture change:


1: clearly define what you want to achieve, mission, vision, values, profit. What are your numbers?
2: measure where you are now, what is your current culture (using a robust and evidence based culture measurement tool is best), engagement surveys are ok, culture diagnostics is better.
3: define a clear understanding of the causes of the current culture. Why are you here, and what’s keeping you there?
4: pick one or two key levers for change in each category of business operation to change.
5: assess your leadership. Do you and your people have the capabilities and skills to lead and make the change?
6: provide support for your managers and leaders to lead their people and manage the change.
7: create a culture change management plan. Ensure that leadership and business process is integrated.
7: implement the plan using a good planning methodology.


Following this strategy and sticking with it will begin to create the culture you need for the success that you want.


As the old Pantene commercial used to say “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”


Author: Michelle Holland




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