Readers of my blog may be surprised to learn that despite my being a complete atheist, I have made a point to study (adult) university courses in religious thinkers over the past 4 years.
I have been introduced to the vast differences between a focus on dogma, beliefs and faith on one hand, and a focus on deeds, behaviours, and actions on the other. I find this area fascinating, full of paradox, intrigue and extreme cognitive/emotional complexity.
In this post I want to share with my readers a few free associations I have had about changing company culture, based on the stuff I have been studying from a totally unrelated area, ie, religious thought.
Although there is almost no parallel between the subject and the metaphor, whilst studying the complex link between between beliefs/action in religion led to me to thinking about company culture/ which I have always claimed cannot be “changed” as consultants claim it can. And I got myself thinking about the amount of focus on beliefs and dogmas in promulgating company culture, as opposed to the focus on acts and deeds.
I thought about a company that has a poor level of customer support, because their product is unstable, the service engineers get no cooperation from development team, the IT system is too slow and tier support level 2 and 3 are understaffed. In this company, over $200,000 has been invested in creating a culture focusing on “client intimacy”. Of course, nothing changed. Except that $200,000 has been pissed away.
Culture cannot change by inculcating a series of beliefs or dogmas.Things need to done differently, as this may result in a “change of culture” after a certain time gap.
Naturally, things need to be done differently within a given context, and that context is no doubt on based on beliefs. Yet the major focus must be on consistent action, otherwise nothing will change.
Action without appropriate beliefs may result in some change. Belief and dogma not translated into action are a futile effort. As a matter of fact, belief and dogma do NOT impact culture at all. Culture is changed ONLY by concrete actions.
One more free association. Do staff need to understand why they are asked to behave in a certain way? Here is a true story, I worked for a company that promised that clothes purchased could be returned NO QUESTIONS asked. The salespeople were furious because they claimed that customers bought clothes, went to a wedding and then returned them. Staff refused to comply because they felt humiliated, or “frayers” in Hebrew, dumb suckers. Finally after a few people were disciplined, the automatic refund started to be implemented.
So yes, there is an element of “just do it” in company culture. And if you do not understand it, do it anyway.