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Find your organisation's sweet spot for infinite change: Culture

When you belong to a chosen community, you have most likely made a conscious choice to actively participate alongside a group of like-minded individuals. The goal? To reach a shared objective - whether this is to keep your local beach or park litter free, whether it is to promote the interests of your industry, or whether you are part of the local Tuesday afternoon soccer team.
Find your organisation's sweet spot for infinite change: Culture

Each community is uniquely characterised by their shared behaviour, their like-mindedness and their common values. These behaviours, thoughts and values may develop and evolve over time organically. But it might also be deliberately guided – or change-championed – by members higher up in the leadership structure to sprout or maintain deliberate goals.

Healthy change starts with healthy cultures

Organisational culture functions similar to communities.
First let’s talk about the elusive concept of corporate culture. The shortest answers are often the best. People data provider ERC says that “culture is the character and personality of your organisation.”
Steve Denning, author of the book The Age of Agile, says that an organisation’s culture “comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. The elements fit together as a mutually reinforcing system and combine to prevent any attempt to change it.”
Sounds intricate? That is why changing an organisational culture is a complex large-scale undertaking for the organisation to work well.
The team at employment platform Indeed believes that organisations that promote community in the workplace are more likely to get the best out of their employees, and retain them for longer. How do you prevent regression in organisational culture?
Realistically, would organisations looking to shape internal culture, start exactly there – by shaping the culture? Or would the organisation (the community) need to effect structural changes of its internal frameworks first to encourage shared values, thoughts and behaviour to reach their goals?

A cultural gap analysis matters greatly

Often the best solution is to have an objective external party – one who has been privy to witness a diverse range of cultures at play – facilitate this large-scale and complex undertaking within organisations with fresh eyes.
A good place to start is by doing a corporate culture health check to identify the nuanced gaps that may exist across all areas. Here is where connections between problems will often reveal itself.
Only then can recommendations for changing the culture be made, which may inform any further systemic and procedural changes.

Align culture with the organisation’s engine room

Indeed, cultures can boost or halt the organisation’s growth when areas such as its goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions are not aligned with the engine room. By the engine room, I mean the organisation’s systems, structures and processes.
Say an organisation has defined their growth path by setting out on a digital-first business strategy. That means the culture must unpack exactly what it means for its collective behaviour to become ‘digital first.’ Only then can this vision be aligned with the processes, systems and structures that would need to be in place to achieve this goal and adopt this mindset.
Should the organisation leave any backdoors wide open, it could allow for old habits to creep back into these back doors. And so you have not given a paperless culture a fighting chance to develop, but instead allowed for ambiguity among employees.
A sustainable digital-first culture would be empowered by a system that does not leave room to crumble. Instead, it will allow employees to change the way they work on a paperless, but very importantly, unified system, for example.

Change cultures that are infinite celebrate both short- and long-term milestones

I invite organisations to relook at the way they perceive change internally. Change is an inherent part of normal progression. The cultural goal should be familiarity and ‘becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable nature’ of change. Within this context, let’s reframe short- and long-term goals as short- and-long-term milestones instead.
How? Create check-in moments, knowing that we will never really arrive at a finite end point.
The biggest change-friendly strides are made when comfort with the concept of change becomes part of the organisation’s culture. Healthy change cultures will soon start to proactively navigate change instead of reactively.
Define the gaps in organisational culture, set up a solid engine room, and along the way, aim to intermittently celebrate both the short- and long-term milestones. Instead of allowing for a revert to old familiar habits, flourishing organisations are excellent at aligning the reasons why employees have chosen to belong to an organisation.

About Kriel & Co: 

Kriel & Co is an IMCSA-accredited management consulting practice specialising in change management, data privacy compliance, digital transformation and mentorship. The practice actively serves clients in a variety of sectors with a proven track-record of delivering innovative, cost-effective and sustainable strategies for digital change. Consultants are primarily retained on a long-term project basis by clients to oversee holistic digital transformation projects and initiatives.  
Get in touch: moc.ocdnaleirk@olleh

About Francois Kriel

Francois Kriel is an IMCSA accredited management consultant. He?is the founder and managing director of consultancy Kriel & Co,?specialising?in digital transformation, change management and data privacy. He is also a member of Privacy Officers Africa?and guest lecturer at Stellenbosch University's department of Business Management.?  Francois has extensive knowledge on data privacy (such as POPIA compliance) having established an inter-operable practice with the Technology,? Media? and Telecommunications department at top-tier law firm ENSafrica and advising several of the firm's clients.??  Empowered by the most current digital and legal expertise, he confidently advises organisations on practically achieving their organisational goals, data privacy obligations and change management requirements to effectively fulfil the role of CIO.
Kriel  & Co
Francois Kriel is an IMCSA accredited management consultant with change management and digital transformation as specialisation areas. He works full-time as director at Kriel & Co where he leads a dynamic team currently facilitating digital change at several high-profile organisations. Francois also supports Stellenbosch University as guest lecturer to business management honours students. He is an advocate for collaborative leadership, mentorship and LGBTQI+ inclusivity.
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