How to Challenge the Cultural Status Quo
“Everyone knows that the old ways don’t work anymore. We want new people and new ideas, but they are so often disruptive because they don’t fit our culture.” I hear this a lot.
How do you preserve existing culture AND introduce meaningful change? You don’t. Pick one and get to work on it. Get a clear picture in your mind of what you want when you’re all done; then get busy.
Recognize that old power bases, traditional structures, and learned behaviors are going to be very difficult to dismantle and reconfigure in new and better ways. How to go about it?
With respect, curiosity, determination, and courage. A sense of humor and perspective will help, too. You can challenge the status quo. And you must if you care about helping your organization adapt to an ever changing environment.
Take a positive approach instead of a fix-it one. Instead of asking “How come?” ask “What if?” Learn about the resources available to you. Understand what you provide to your customers both internal and external. See where you could do something a bit differently to reach better results.
Ask people to tell you what they do. Ask them what they are most proud of. Pay attention to the answers because they provide clues to leverage points—those places where a little bit of adjustment can yield surprising results.
Capture the energy that’s released when people get excited about doing something better and use it to continue improving. That’s momentum and it’s powerful.