Saturday, February 4, 2012

Awakening the Vital Power within the Cultural Identity

Intense innovation and customer focus are the keys to an emerging organization.  Often complexity and distraction lead to increased focus on the short-term bottom-line with core-principles left on the backburner. This focus mirrors a lost sense of identity, value and vision. When the critical foundation of maintaining core-principles is lost, the result is inflexibility and stagnation instead of bold growth and cultural maturity that are necessary to continuously be dynamically resilient
Changing a mindset is never easy. Usually, a strong jolt is needed before people realize that the current way of doing things is no longer adequate. Awareness to the need for change is achieved most effectively when the culture is under pressure. This stress triggers a cultural change process.

Pain in the cultural system makes people aware of the serious consequences of maintaining existing patterns. Often, however, key players initially react to this awareness with shock and disbelief. These reactions activate defensive routines that block further movement; fear of the unknown contributes to a reluctance to identify the root cause and implement a change solution.
Hopefully, this is only a short term reaction. Once there is the recognition that the status quo cannot be maintained, the stress, fear and change is to be confronted.  There comes a point when clinging on to the status quo only creates deeper problems.
At that point, diving into the unknown is the lesser of two evils and the commitment to change begins. This may seem an insurmountable obstacle for the key players, especially if core values have become lost in a changing environment.  Yet, the vital awakening power starts from becoming aware of how the key player’s behavior impedes or promotes healthy functioning in the culture.  Unawareness or resistance to either can seriously affect performance throughout the organization.  A softer approach is recommended to develop a culture that enhances human capability through individual and organizational learning.

Top-down structural changes and policy enhancements only produce an illusion of order and control.  Power holders assume that employees will internalize the new rules they prescribe and automatically change. Cultural defensive patterns cannot be changed by only structural changes, however, because they only scratch the surface of any transformation effort Instead, considerable social interaction is needed among participants for mindset change because most behavior takes place at an unconscious level, which is not easily altered.  

Change occurs when an examination of unconscious activity in the daily work and new activities are introduced, followed by a new interpretation of the construction of shared meanings among participants at all levels of the organization.  This act instills the vital power to create a shared mindset, changed behavior, institutionalize change, and transform the organization into a renewed cultural identity of resilience.