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Like individuals, organisations are creatures of habit with their own personalities and customs. The pace of business today is relentless and organisations must evolve to maintain profitability, increase market share and stay ahead of the competition. Irish economic growth has lead to a phase of constant change, Mindset Ireland is perfectly placed to help business leaders and organisations develop their culture in order to thrive, not just survive, in this rapidly changing environment. The organizational culture must be ready and capable of supporting and sustaining the change at hand. Whether embarking on a new direction, establishing a new organizational vision or questioning why your turnover rates are above industry norms, it is critical to start by assessing the present day culture of the organization. As qualified associates trained in the use of Culture-Strategy Fit™** Assessment tools we can analyze and determine which tool(s) would best serve the evaluation phase of a change initiative. Clearly many businesses and many countries have a more liberal look on gender equality, it isn’t all that black and white as I have described above, but I keep facing old attitudes and lots and lots of blind spots, and it surprises me, I thought we had moved on (especially when I think of Norway, the most egalitarian country in the world).
Getting individuals and teams to implement a new culture is typically one of the hardest challenges change agents in organizations can take on.
The challenge for Chris, as it often is with cultural integration, is that while people became aware of the expected change effort, most still didn’t adopt the new culture into practice. Define the change in experience terms: many organizations talk about the new culture in knowledge terms, but knowledge does not translate into practice. The best way to adopt something new is to teach it to others: in our experience, a change team, like the one Chris was heading, is of great value. Tie change to behavior and application: many change efforts are done in the sky, with nothing anchoring them to the ground. Why Do We Accept the Idea That You Can’t Change People Who Don’t Want to Change?

Often ‘the way things are done around here’ is so set in stone it stops the company changing and moving forward as it has to. Speaking in general terms, I get a sense that people in majority (let’s say a heterosexual white man) are not trying to learn about the reality of the world through other people’s eyes (let’s say a coloured, lesbian woman). Values and response patterns that are associated with people’s culture run deep, they have emotional ties and are usually invisible and subconscious. Brain science research provides excellent guidance on how to overcome this common change-related challenge. Collecting examples and sharing stories, like Chris did, is an excellent way to avoid the knowledge trap. It becomes even more effective if the change is designed with clear dissemination system through team managers. Top leadership talks about the change, decisions are made and communicated from the top, and the hope is that people will notice the change and, if the instructions are clear, people will be able to apply them.
Maybe there are some deep psychological reasons behind that I have not understood, but it seems I’m not alone! They defend their walls and their world, without trying to lean outside of the walls and see what it looks like. We like to stay within our comfort zone and keep things as we know them – it feels safer that way. You know resistance is there if people are not implementing the new culture in a lasting way. But note – in order to make sure people are interpreting the meaning you want them to assign to stories and examples as a way to get them to understanding the new culture, the stories and examples must come from them. Once direct managers in the organization practice and reinforce a clear new culture (clear in experience terms) with their direct team, change is applied seamlessly.

The trouble with this approach is that it makes a great foundation for awareness, but not for application.
When we met Chris, he was well ahead of the curve in terms of designing an effective change effort. The important thing is to make sure managers get the new culture implicitly (they know what it means in action, not just how to talk about it) AND that managers are provided with a way to disseminate that experience of the new culture to their direct teams. The reason change needs to be led by direct managers, is because they are in a position to continuously tie the new, sometimes lofty-seeming, values or culture to specific actions, behaviors and responses.
He had been collecting and disseminating success stories and case studies his team collected in working with his company’s clients.
Sharing examples is a great way to go about it, provided you follow the first principle included above. It’s this feedback loop that makes it possible for people to adopt something into practice.
He rightfully believed, that if people experience the new culture through examples, they would be much more likely to implement the new culture.
He didn’t think about it (and was mostly ignorant to) the science behind his approach, but much of the approach he intuitively chose to take was aligned with the latest brain science research.

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