Managers tend to put labels to their needs in an attempt to feel better about grabbing something concrete. A ‘leadership programme’ sounds like a training system to create better leaders, but suppose you want these leaders above all to become highly innovative. Does it make it an ‘innovation programme’? Which consultants do you call in? An ‘away day’ or off-site on strategy has been designed by team building consultants in the hope that you’ll get a bonded team. Do you want good strategy, a good team or both? You invested massively in sales training across the board hoping you’ll get better sales results. However, all you have is a ‘better trained workforce’ without improved results. Was the training bad (and you can’t fault the techniques taught) or the wrong consultants?
You wanted Division A and Division B to stop working in silos and have decided to amalgamate A and B under a new C so now they have one single management, one home, one roof and one organization chart. But the new C people continue to ignore each other. Perhaps you were too quick in giving a structural answer (the reorganization) to what it was a behavioural problem -people not talking to each other.
You have reorganized, reshuffled groups, redesigned new processes and created an entirely new Operating Model and you have been left by your consulting partners with stacks of powerpoints explaining it all. But there is nothing on those digital piles about how John and Mary are going to work together, what behaviours are needed for that, or how to help them to speed up the ‘working together’. No wonder six months later people still tell you that the reorganization is unfinished or the integration is ‘still in progress’.
All of the above are situations which may have started or ended with labels such as leadership development, restructuring, sales management, team building, behavioural change, process redesign, new operating model, reorganization etc.
You are rich in labels but poor in results because you may lack or have been short of ‘the one single view’, an architect’s view. You have been building a house with an expensive plumbing system that doesn’t work, a garden with beautiful plants unsuitable for your weather, you are really short of one bedroom, your car is too big for the garage and the legal status of your planning permission is at the very least dubious. And the invitations to the housewarming party have already been sent to the world.
If you can imagine these scenarios either because you are about to embark upon any of these ventures or are half a way there, or have been left with the PowerPoint stacks, we are the people who will help you either to avoid, remedy or completely rescue. We are your organizational architects that either you need, or needed but did not have.
You probably have a strategic plan and a business plan. Perhaps you also have a marketing plan and a social media plan. You may not be short of plans. Except one. A culture plan. We are not talking about an HR plan or a Talent Management or a Succession plan. You see? You have even more plans. It is about your whole house, not just the bricks, the wooden floors, the garden, the plumbing system or the heating but the house itself, your home and what life looks like inside. Organizations are the same, they are ‘homes’ for all of the above, from strategy to operations to human resources. Do you have your ‘home plan’?
You may be one of many who become very restless with the word ‘culture’, one of the most confusing and contaminated words in management. Don’t worry, we can help you to have a state of the art culture without even mentioning the word, if that makes you feel better. We are talking about rules of the game, non negotiable behaviours, ways of doing things and working styles. We are talking about the psychological space of your organization. In the absence of these ‘soft elements’, plans are often built without a defined context. For example, your Marketing plan is brilliant but will only work if ‘A people’ and ‘B people’ collaborate and share information (marketing and sales, and account management for example). But there is nothing in the Marketing Plan about how to ensure that collaboration. It just takes for granted that it will happen.
Also, your culture (organizational home) plan has two faces. One is the formal one with all the typical structures that the organization chart usually describes: teams, divisions, reporting lines, hierarchy and structures. The other is the informal organization, which the organization chart does not represent and where most of the innovation and free flow of ideas live. This is the territory of the unwritten rules and the environment as a whole. The late Sumantra Ghoshal used to say that some companies’ atmosphere ‘resemble downtown Calcutta in summer’. That will give you an idea of what you need to avoid in your culture plan and why you need one.
We will work with you to create your organizational and culture strategy plan which sits above all the other plans and provides a reference for them. We will help you to visualize the journey that you need to embark upon and will draw with you the pathways to arrive to several different destinations. You will find this overall culture map vital to provide sense to everything else. And we can use the word culture or avoid it altogether. Maybe we could call it your Glue Plan.
‘What’ are you? What is the space you team occupies in the organization? What spaces does the organization occupy within the company? Or the company itself? Is that the space you want? What do you want your stakeholders to experience? What’s your real purpose? Your identity? If your team or division was a commercial brand, what would be its value proposition? How would anybody feel about ‘buying it’? And which behaviours would be needed to make that brand live?
All these questions can hardly be answered by the organization chart or by cold mission statements. In a business world of escalating ambiguity and messiness, the organization chart gives only an illusion of comfort. Over a series of short interventions we will work with you and your people to discover and establish that space and plan for how to occupy it. It is about finding the real reason for your existence, perhaps the hidden purpose and the set of behavioural rules needed to thrive.
Call it identity or purpose or raison d’etre, it is also team building, an in depth evaluation, and a big step towards collective leadership. You (your team, your division, your company), considered as a brand, is a powerful way to establish new foundations after restructuring for example. It can trigger a profound renewal. Looking at the team as a brand, can get everybody aligned not only around values and beliefs but also on behaviours, both internally and with your key interfaces. Even if you have your mission and vision statements on the wall, this is about making them live and translating them into the reality of our broader interfaces.
We often use this approach in the context of a broader leadership or change programme, perhaps as a prelude to Viral ChangeTM or simply on its own to generate shared understanding of your real identity and real space and commitment to action.
If you are interested in discussing the advantages of treating your team, division or organization as a brand and how this can enhance significantly your common purpose and ultimately allow you to execute our mission more rapidly, get in touch.