I think many people underestimate the importance of corporate culture in executing strategies and driving change. Culture is one of those “soft” things—it’s hard to define specifically, it’s hard to develop specific action, worse yet it involves connecting with people in a genuine fashion.
It’s so much easier to deal with the “harder” issues like developing strategies, executing programs and action plans, and so forth.
Having been involved in a number of turnaround situations and clients facing major challenges, culture can trump everything. Harness the culture positively and you can dramatically accelerate things, accomplishing things the organization never believed possible—Oh, and by the way reinforcing and strengthening positive elements of the culture. Ignore it, dismiss it and accomplishing anything can be painfully slow or impossible.
Even worse, for change agents, become seduced by it overwhelms you and makes you ineffective. Years ago, I was involved as a senior executive in a major corporate turnaround. My boss, the CEO, and I were reflecting on the progress we were making and the challenges in continuing to move aggressively in changing things. He taught me a great lesson, he stated: “One of the most difficult things about change is underestimating the impact of corporate culture and being seduced by it—when it leads you in the wrong direction. If you succumb to it, you have failed.”
One of the greatest challenges leaders face is learngin from and harnessing the corporate culture in a positive manner. One of the most difficult things to correct is a bad culture. Bad culture outlasts managers and shapes the company far longer than we ever guess.
Read the article, it’s worthwhile!