Continuous Cultural Change and Improvement
Cultural change is very difficult to effect in organizations, particularly in mature organizations. An existing strong culture can often resist a weak change effort. However, if innovation and intrapreneurship are to be successful, they must be supported by an appropriate corporate culture. To be successful, our plans for change must be firmly focused on developing a culture that is aligned with the firm's intended strategy. Trying to implement a cultural change that is counter to the strategy is almost certain to fail. It is the high-level leader's responsibility, once strategy is chosen, to bring the corporate culture into close alignment with strategy and keep it there.
The many reasons cited for the failure of organizational behavior change efforts can be reduced to one sentence: The culture of the organization remained unchanged. Any attempt to introduce management practices or organizational behavior changes that are radically different from the existing culture will almost certainly fail if these changes are incompatible with the existing culture. The culture -- that sum of values, beliefs, and assumptions that is the core of any organization -- must support the new initiatives if these behavioral changes are to take hold. Without a change in the culture of the company, no new set of skills or work processes will bring about the kind of reform that is needed.
Developing an innovative company will require many changes in organizational behavior and business processes. However, before we even think about making these changes, we must change the organizational culture so it will support these changes. That is the subject of this chapter. We will first explore how a company should be organized for cultural improvement. Then we look at the planning process for determining the company's vision, values, and principles. And finally we look at the most difficult task of all, implementing a cultural change.