Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Change Management/Culture

My long-time TEC III member, Mitch Weckop, CEO of Skyline Technologies, made a great  presentation to a meeting of the local Servant Leadership group recently, regarding his learnings on how to make change happen.  They are not only about process, but also about the cultural items that ingrain a low performing culture and inhibit the movement to the needed one.  You have to recognize and change them ... to make change happen!  The essence of his remarks:

Most people have frustrations and want to change things. CEOs certainly do. And so do VPs,
managers, directors, salespeople, accounts payable processors, machine operators and ... And not just
at work ... in personal lives, and in the community.
And we can. But you have to make sure it's something you're passionate about (because
changing other people's habits is very, very hard), and that it's something you can directly impact.
(Forget about world hunger, the national debt, etc.). And, that directly impacts you (because that's
what will sustain your passion).

First of all, he says, you have to map out your process. Here it is:
1. Identify the Current Reality, especially the negative or sub-optimal result it is achieving.
2. Document the Reality you would Like To Have. What would it "look like" in broad
descriptors, especially the positive results it is providing.
3. Identify the "Rubber Bands" that are keeping the current culture intact. This will be a long
list of specifics ... things that need to be changed.
4. Identify the Work required to Break those Rubber Bands. Not only do you list here the
details of the New Reality (usually opposites of what"s listed in #3), but the specific
Challenges you will have in making them happen. Identifying the "barriers" is important,
because then you think about how to overcome them; you are less surprised when you
encounter them, and more confident because you have a plan. What's very important is
knowing that when you try to change someone else's habits, there is much pullback.
Eventually, most will come around, but some won't and they will be very publicly vocal.
You have to be firm and resistant.
5. Finally, Prioritize what you will do By Quarter. You can't start everything at once. Start
with a few, very few, and fight to get them to work. As people get comfortable with them,
they will be more accepting of your next changes at a faster pace. You'll also be learning
about how to make these things happen. Having the time schedule in place gives you
confidence that there is a foreseeable completion ... even though it will go slower than you
think, and the schedule will be lengthened.
Developing this Process Map doesn't take long ... just a few thoughtful hours or days by your
core group of people who will be masterminding it. At a transportation company, Weckop's 5-person
senior team developed the process in little more than an hour.
What takes long is implementing it. At the transportation company, it took three years to
achieve the New Reality described on the Process Map.

Here are things you have to look for, because they are CULTURAL ... meaning they are
ingrained, even invisible habits and processes that fight AGAINST change. Your current culture
wants to perpetuate itself, and is designed to do so.
So, you must identify and change the cultural elements that are retarding change. Here is
what to look for:
1. Stories. Your organization has stories that are perpetuating the current reality. They talk
about the world that was, lifting it up, celebrating it. You don't want to kill those stories,
because they are part of the legacy, but you need to initiate NEW STORIES ... ones that
describe the new reality, the new vision, the new rewards that you want the organization
to embrace. Look at your desired reality, and tell the story of how you developed it ... and
tell it OFTEN! There will soon be sub-stories, new ones that get created on your journey.
Craft them carefully, and tell them, too. Weckop says, "Be very intentional about the
stories you need to tell. They must be compelling, and justify your new vision."
2. Language: BE intentional about your descriptors. Make them more compelling than the
current ones. Example: Employee titles. Receptionist has become Ambassador and Mgr,
First Impressions. More and more have become Technicians or Technical Consultants.
3. Artifacts: There are all sorts of things around the office and plant that support or are
memories of the old culture. Remove them, and replace them with something new,
ideally emblematic of the new culture. Start with vending machines with high fat content
4. Status: Who gets special parking places? Certainly not executives. Customers for
certain. Then, nobody ... egalitarian? Or an employee who got a special award or
5. Symbols of Success: "My office has more ceiling or floor tiles than yours, so ..." Better:
Who gets selected to go to special training, to visit customers, etc.!
6. Taboos: Look for Taboos that are counter-productive. We should be doing them. Then,
begin the fight to change that cultural element.
7. Rituals: What happens all the time that reinforces the old way, the old guard, the old
culture? Locate it. Change or replace it .. to what you need now. Create new rituals that
reflect the new regime. Could be simple things ... like a new approach to the employee
8. Rewards: Whom and when do you reward? For seniority? No. People who are taking
you in the new direction, at a faster speed than others! Make sure there is a
Principles/Values check ... but that's a 'cost of entry,' not a gainer.
Says Weckop: "Find where your passion is about something that needs to change, and go for

1 comment:

  1. Phil, Sounds great but too many CEO's and other top managers 'plan' for change, set a timetable with intermediate goals...but nothing happens... A truely committed and focused CEO that can lead a 'team' to change is a valuable asset indeed. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave