Culture Change: The chemistry of culture change
Culture Change: Understanding the chemistry
As somebody who often works as a change agent for an organisation or trains others to become effective change agents, I have to admit that I sometimes envy the natural world. Nature has this incredible way of making change look easy! Take water – one minute it’s a liquid, the next it’s ice, or steam. Unlike an organisation and the people within it, water never seems to find it difficult to change! Looking at this kind of natural, effortless change really does emphasise something that it’s easy to forget when a manager or executive is thinking about their own role – effective change, and lasting culture change, happens when responsive and reactive materials come into contact with a good change agent.
Culture Change: Ignite the spark of change in others
There are many different theories on what makes a good change agent, and guides on how to become better at facilitating culture change within a business or organisation. Some ideas talk about measured and controlled risk taking, effective communication, an inspirational presence, and an exhaustive understanding of the business. It would be only natural to assume that if you understand the problem that necessitates change and can formulate an effective solution, achieving culture change becomes easy.
Of course, any change agent will tell you that lasting change is never quite as simple as a checklist of personality traits. Although there are certain characteristics that most change agents have, the truth is that it’s easy to be the agency of change, because you know exactly where you are going, why you are going there, and how you plan to get there. Culture change is most difficult for the rest of your organisation, who haven’t necessarily had the benefit of a clear overall view.
When water changes into ice or steam, it is temperature that is the change agent at work. Maybe it is a Bunsen burner, or the sun, or freezer. But while these change agents are vital, spare a thought for the hard work that every molecule in H2O undertakes to make change a reality. Culture change is impossible without a reliable, visionary change agent, but it is equally impossible without the determination and responsiveness of the entire organisation.
Culture Change: Success Comes From Relationships
Now, it would be wrong to undermine the value of a change agent when a business or organisation undergoes the process of change. In addition, the majority of circumstances do call for change agents to alter their working processes themselves. But if you are looking to make use of external help, or improve your ability to encourage and nurture change within your organisation, remember that a change agent is only one part of the puzzle.
Change agents bring exhaustive business knowledge and experience, an insight into your organisation, and an innovative attitude that can distil the specific problems that you face and formulate appropriate solutions. But, most importantly of all, a change agent is able to educate, inform and inspire an entire team to start the hard work of making change happen.
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