Changing Organisational Culture

By |2020-07-08T18:00:37+10:00July 8th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

We often think of the culture of an organisation as ‘the way we do things around here’ or ‘the way things are’. Culture seems to convey some sort of reality – the reality of how things are.

One possibility among many

But just think for a moment about ‘how things are’. Sure, what we see around us in the organisation is, indeed, how things are. But how they are is not the only available option of how things could be.

Think about shopping. Back in the day, going shopping meant walking down to the local corner store and buying your goods. But then it morphed into driving to the shopping mall, going round in circles looking for a parking space, and finally entering this huge building filled with people all looking for goods and the entertainment of ‘going shopping’. And now, increasingly, it means browsing the internet on your phone and buying stuff online.

The point is, ‘how things are’ changes over time as other things that are theoretically possible become reality. How things are one possibility among many, and not necessarily something that ‘has to be like that’.

When you analyse what an organisation is like, what you see may be reality, but it is also the one possibility among others that was selected to become reality. The other possibilities might still be waiting out in the wings somewhere.

Reality and identity

Current reality is, often, a matter of the choices we make – which possibilities we choose to accept, and which we choose to reject. And those we choose to accept become part of our identity. This is a kind of self-supporting system – we choose certain possibilities because they reflect how we see the world, and then those realities shape how we see ourselves. And then they affect how we behave and what happens to us.

There are many examples of this in the real world. Think of Kodak. The company created portable film that meant anyone could carry a camera in their pocket and take shots of aunt Mildred blowing out her birthday candles. But eventually, other possibilities could turn into reality. The irony is, Kodak were the first to develop the digital camera back in 1975, but they chose to ignore it as a viable alternative to film. After all, kodak was all about film, right?

Or think about IBM. Business machines – that was the reality at the forefront of their mind. But they failed to see that another possibility was turning into reality – that the machine wasn’t going to be where the action was. The action was going to be in the software that made the machines useful – something that Bill Gates at Microsoft understood very well.

We could go on, but the point is, reality doesn’t necessarily have to be the way it is. And the way it is, is influenced by how people see themselves. 

Culture and reality

So, how are culture and reality connected? Reality is how it is – at least for now – and culture is what we say about how it is. Edgar Schein, the culture guru, recognised that culture says things about ‘how things are’ at 3 levels of embeddedness.

On the surface level, there are things we can see, smell, hear, and touch. You walk into an exclusive shop and you hear someone playing a grand piano, you see marble flooring, crystal chandeliers, and you know what all this says. It says, ‘we are exclusive, expect to pay more, and you are the kind of person who can afford to shop here’. On the other hand, when you go into Kmart, everything you see says, ‘we will save you money. Look at all this good stuff and see how cheap it is. You are a smart shopper’.  Everything you can see, hear, smell, and touch tells a story about the store, and about you.

On a more complex level, the story is about what we value. At the expensive store, it’s about valuing quality over quantity, exclusivity over commonplace, style over functionality. At Kmart, it’s about valuing thrift over excess, accessibility over privilege, function over form.

And at the deepest level, culture is about the stories becoming one with the reality in our minds. We believe the stories are so true at the deepest level that we assume everyone else believes them too. They cease being stories to us and just become things we believe to be true. So much so, that they don’t even feel like stories anymore. It’s just how things are.

The point of this is to say that culture supports reality.

Changing culture

If you want to change ‘the way things are’ – to make an alternative possibility a reality – you also need to change the stories about how things are. You need to do this at all 3 levels.

You need to get people to make alternative choices and a powerful way to do that is to control the stories they tell. Control what people know, what they believe, what they value, what they talk about, and how they talk, and you will have some control over the choices they make.

Politicians know this and they do it all the time. So do big companies. And so can you.

Written by Steve Barlow

About The Change Gym

By |2020-05-28T15:33:52+10:00April 20th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Hi, I’m Steve Barlow, a Director of The Change Gym.

I want to help you understand what we do as a company and how we may be able to help you. So, let me tell you a little of our story.

The Change Gym grew out of some work I was doing over a decade ago. I had been working in the NSW correctional system running programs to help inmates engage in positive personal change. Over a period of 7 years I coached about 3000 men.

This experience helped me understand that even if you had the best programs in the world, they won’t work for some people. Some people resist change no matter how you try to engage them. And yet for other people, mediocre programs can be effective. Now, it’s obviously better to have good programs, but on their own, good programs aren’t enough.

I guess most program deliverers know that programs work better for some people than for others. That’s a kind of insider knowledge – if you deliver change programs you know what both engagement and resistance look like. But it’s much harder to know what’s going on inside the heads of people who receive the programs. What causes them to engage or resist and, more importantly, what is it they bring to programs that makes them effective?

I didn’t really have answers to these questions, but I wanted to know. I wanted to know because, if I could identify what the secret ingredient was, then perhaps I could make better use of it and help people develop more of it. So, I went back to university, enrolled in a PhD program and 6 years later I had some answers. The Change Gym was born out of a desire to share these answers with others.

We are involved in the management of personal and organisational change, but we are not primarily a management company. We certainly have strengths in developing and implementing change programs, but our main strength relates to what happens in the minds of people who will be most affected by the changes. No matter how good your programs are or how skilled your change managers, stakeholders must be ready to engage with change programs if they are to succeed.

They say that knowledge is power. I’m here to tell you that knowing how to unlock change fitness and change readiness is the secret to powerful and effective change programs. This is what we know most about, and we have developed pathways to help you gain the knowledge you need.

Remember this: you need great programs, but you also need great people to make those programs work. Learning about change fitness and change readiness helps you discover who those people are, and how to help others become those people.

When you apply change fitness and change readiness principles to your change projects, you can expect to see more engagement, less resistance, and improved change outcomes. You can expect to see more agile and adaptable employees and an organisational culture that accepts and embraces change.

So, that’s who we are, where we’ve come from, and what we do. And we’d love to be part of your future. When change-fit and change-ready stakeholders engage with great change programs, the future is worth getting excited about. So, if you’re ready to say good-bye to change fatigue, disengagement, and resistance, why not check out what we’ve got to say?

 

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Stories

By |2020-03-07T10:51:42+11:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Leadership, Uncategorized|

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Stories

This is the second article in a 3-part series on marketing and sales, taken from the perspective of change and change readiness. In the first article, we considered that the two steps of the marketing and sales process and the goals of each step. In this article, we examine how to use communication to move a prospect towards becoming your client.

In the previous article, we considered the imperative to move prospects into greater awareness of their needs and desires, and then move them towards making the decision to work with you. We noted a list of things prospects do in these two steps of the change process. Your job is to help them to move forward and one way you can do that is through targeted communications. Here are some ideas.

Be Clear About Your Prospects’ Needs and Desires

You need to think this through and do some research. What problems do your prospects have and how do these limit them? What does it feel like to have these problems? If they could change their current reality, what would they change it to? What would they eliminate?

If you aren’t clear about issues like these, your communications will be ineffective, and no one will pay attention to you.

Be Clear About How You Can Satisfy Their Needs and Wants

Your product or service may or may not provide a total solution, but it may go a long way towards one. But you must be clear about how it does that. Again, if you are unclear of this, your communications will suffer.

Craft Your Messages

Here are some guidelines to help you with that:

  • Audience – who is the message intended for? You need to speak to a clearly defined avatar, not some general notion of a ‘good prospect’.
  • Purpose – what outcome do you want from your message? Are you raising awareness? Answering a FAQ? Trying to persuade? Asking the prospect to take some action? If you’re not clear about the purpose, the message will be random, and you won’t be able to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Vocabulary – you need to use words that are relevant to your intended audience. Use words they would use. If you don’t know what that is, do some research.
  • Register – we’re talking about how formal or informal you should pitch your language. This needs to be appropriate to your intended audience.
  • Tone – this refers to your attitude towards your audience and the topic of the message. It could be respectful, sensitive, playful, satirical, cynical, professional, etc. This will come through your message, so make sure you get it right to impact your audience in the way you want.
  • Content – these are the ideas you want to communicate. What do you want to say to your audience? Be very clear about this. Make sure your message ends up saying what you want it to say.
  • Medium – how will you communicate your message? Through a blog post, a Facebook ad, a video on YouTube, a page on your website?
  • Structure – This is how you shape your message through the medium you choose. Make sure the structure of your message is appropriate for the medium. For example, if it’s a blog post, structure it in short sections with multiple headings.

Position Your Solution

Think about how to get across the idea that you have the solution to the prospect’s problem. What makes your solution better than others? Why should they pick you rather than someone else? What unique features can you offer? What are the key features and benefits of your solution?

Think of how you can communicate these messages to your prospects.

Empower Your Language

You want your prospect to believe you have the right solution and they can be successful at it. So, use language that builds up their confidence and belief in themselves. Be realistic about it – if your solution is that good and you can see how it would work for the prospect, let them know it. People often second doubt themselves, but you can help them make a firm decision.

Focus on Benefits

The solution you’re offering may cause some anxiety to the prospect. Remember, if they knew how to solve their problem on their own, they wouldn’t be coming to you. So, in addition to using empowering language, get the prospect to focus on the benefits of your solution. Get them to think about how great it will be when clients are lined up waiting to do business with them, or when they are travelling to an exotic destination.

Support Your Prospect

Support the prospect, but don’t smother them. Lead them towards a decision to work with you, but don’t make them feel like you’re pushing them.

Ask Lots of Questions

Lots of open-ended questions. Ask them what they want to achieve, how much they want it, when they want it, how much they intend to spend, when they want it by, etc. If you ask, they will tell. If they don’t tell, there’s a problem with trust and you need to work harder.

Review

Powerful communication is a tool to keep prospects moving forward through the two steps of change. In the next article, we consider what to do if they stop moving forward.

Written By Steve Barlow

Steve is a change fitness coach and change readiness trainer and consultant. If you would like some help with any of the ideas presented in this blog, please book a free consultation with Steve.

steve@thechangegym.com

About The Change Gym

By |2019-11-27T10:29:19+11:00November 27th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

We are a team of change specialists helping organisations and individuals build more capacity to succeed at the change process. For your organisation to become more agile and successful at change, you should develop your change readiness.

Change readiness is a major factor in the success or failure of change projects. It influences how much engagement or resistance you encounter and whether you are likely to be successful. 

Change readiness has an inner and outer dimension. The inner refers to the psychological fitness of stakeholders to be successful at the change process no matter how challenging it is. The outer refers to the readiness of the leadership team and other organisational elements to respond effectively to the demands of the change process, and to nurture people through the process.

Our team specialises in building change fitness in individuals (inner dimension) and change readiness in organisations (outer dimension). You need to do both. According to research, the main cause of failure in organisational change is resistance from employees (an inner dimension problem). Employees with high levels of change fitness are more likely to be engaged and supportive, and less likely to resist.

Research also highlights the second main cause of change failure – poor management. Issues like how you approach change, how you structure interventions, and how and what you communicate all impact the organisation’s change readiness.

Organisational change readiness emerges when the inner change fitness of employees to succeed at the change process combines with the outer change readiness of the organisation to successfully lead and nurture the change process.

We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to guide you towards greater change readiness – in both the inner and outer dimensions. A good place to begin this journey is with a 1-day training program. Scroll down to read more about this.

We are an Australian company working online (or onsite) around the world. 

Other Products

By |2020-01-09T11:53:42+11:00November 9th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

OTHER PRODUCTS

CHANGE READINESS ASSESSMENTS

We provide comprehensive change readiness assessments for organisations planning or engaging in change projects. Get the information you need to succeed with the least possible disruption and the greatest change of success. Prices from $4995 AUD. Contact us to discuss your needs.

COACHING AND COACH TRAINING

We provide individual and group coaching in change fitness, change readiness, and change leadership. We also provide coach training in change fitness and change readiness to internal or external coaches wishing to develop their knowledge and skill in these areas. We also provide licensing opportunities for coaches we have trained. Contact us for more details.

Live Training

By |2019-11-09T15:20:05+11:00November 9th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

LIVE TRAINING

RESISTANCE TO READINESS

This live 1-day training is delivered online or onsite. Discover why resistance to change occurs and how you can turn resistance into readiness. Build engagement and succeed at change. LEARN MORE >>

APPLYING CHANGE READINESS

This live 1-day training is delivered online or onsite. This training follows on from Resistance to Readiness and examines a practical change readiness model and tools to make it work.

What’s the Problem with Organisational Change?

By |2019-03-21T11:54:02+11:00December 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

What’s the Problem with Organisational Change?

If you lived one hundred years ago and you asked, “What’s the problem with organisational change?”, a good answer would have been, “We have no scientific understanding of what to do.”

Since those days, countless books, articles, courses, programs, and experts have come along telling essentially the same message – research tells us there is a right way to manage change in organisations. We have had this knowledge since the 1930’s and […]

Linda’s Story

By |2019-02-22T11:53:10+11:00October 21st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Linda came to me after a successful career in the corporate world. She was facing a period of change in her life and she was a little nervous about it. She needed some help on a personal level, and she thought the PCFP (Personal Change Fitness Program) would help professionally as she moved into the next phase of her life.

Linda took the initial change fitness assessment and her change fitness scores were at the higher end of the […]

Beyond the Me Project

By |2019-02-26T10:50:43+11:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|


The mystery of things

I recently purchased a book about famed Australian artist, Margaret Olley. In that book I read these words, penned by Lou Klepac; “if we stopped judging objects by their practical usefulness, we might discover the mystery of things and not be restricted by the logical, practical world in which we strive to survive physically.”

Those words arrested me and invited me to reflect. What does he mean by ‘practical usefulness’ and the ‘mystery of things’? I would […]