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Jump Starting Your Enterprise Culture Change

If you're reading this, you may be attempting a large scale organizational change of some kind.  And perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed at the huge amount of literature available in "the Google" about how to change a large organization
Please, just stop it right now!  You are setting yourself up for the classic organizational change mistake:  letting the "perfect" get in the way of "the good."  Or even "the existent."  If you've even got a small idea that is a good one, just do it.  Stop pondering the big picture and try something.  Let's start with the concept of "culture change."
Jump starting your enterprise culture change
Ask anyone, and they'll tell you, "oh a culture is the hardest thing to change."  Then ask them what they've tried.  Sometimes the culture is ahead of you, and you don't need to send out individual missionaries to personally convert and baptize new recruits one at a time.  Who died and left you and your hand-picked cronies as "the only ones who know what's going on?"

Re-imagine your cultural change effort as a cultural "channeling" effort, where what you're proposing makes sense.  If it does, and your enterprise is a fairly large one, then I guarantee at least one person, and probably many more (all of the smart ones, for sure!), has already had the idea you are trying to propagate.  You don't need to teach people--you just need to put like-minded people in touch with each other, so they can drive the culture change for you.

Practically, try the following:

  • Set up a "knowledge base:"  a website, shared file depository, or wiki of some kind which is read- and write-accessible to the population whose culture you want to change, and provide a curator of some kind to keep things relatively neat.
  • Recruit everyone you already know to be allies to put "seed content" on the site which will reward visitors for stopping by.  As you encounter new allies, send them to the site and request that they post something in particular that you think is great.  Encourage your allies to do the same type of recruiting.  Encourage everyone not only to post, but to comment and add questions.  If you find good designers or good editors, encourage them to help with the curation and organization of the site as it grows.
  • Set up a distributed email list associated with the knowledge base, and post to the list whenever anything new is put into the knowledge base.  Encourage people to ask questions on the email list, and post the questions and their answers on the site.  Set up an email archive of questions with answers, if you have the technology to do so.
  • Drive traffic to the site with every presentation you give, and every good interaction you have.  Host virtual and in-person get-togethers, and publish artifacts which come out of these meetings to the knowledge base.  Post your training materials.

Not to switch metaphors too close to the end of this post, but culture change really is a matter of "if you build it, (and it's a good idea that you're forwarding), they will come."  Latch onto your local evangelists and get them to get their peers involved. They have the contacts, and you don't!

You do not need to master an encyclopedia's worth of "the literature" to make a difference in your company.  All you need is courage and one idea.  If Solstice could become Christmas this way, by comparison, enterprise cultural change seems like a walk in the park.


This post is from Pragmatic Agilist by Elena Yatzeck. Click here to see the original post in full.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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