Corporate Culture Development Needs Patience
We delivered a corporate culture seminar for a big group of public sector people the other day and it brought home to us yet again the finesse and timing needed to get organisational change totally in tune with the host personnel.
You could see this lesson almost immediately in the range of expectations within the audience, with everything on display from edge of the seat excitement to arm-folded raw skepticism.
To address this often overlooked dimension of personal receptivity, we have developed a typology to address the issues of differing and paced adoption and adaptation – The Conversion Cascade (with acknowledgements to inspiration from Everett Rogers’ innovation adoption curve), which identifies people as Champions, Persuadables, Bring-Alongs and Opt-Outs. It works like this:
Champions- people get motivated, they get a sense of excitement and pace, they want it to happen BUT they need to bear in mind:
Persuadable – these people will come along when they see sense on terms relevant to themselves. They need to be offered plenty of insights and some time to filter it through.
Bring-Along – these people will come along, again when they see personal relevance but they also need a sufficient mass of followers to join.
Opt-Outs – these people probably will never get on board, no matter how attractive the bus (to use an image from Jim Collins’ Good to Great) and how potentially appealing the destination.
The danger under these scenarios is that unsophisticated corporate culture change initiatives will simply supplant existing divisions and conflict with fresh “them and us” situations.
It is very easy for the Champions to become disillusioned with those who do not move as quickly as themselves and for their frustration to grow into simmering antagonism as their increasingly urgent efforts are rebuffed – and as attempted persuasion moves to failing coercion.
We have witnessed a number of floundering initiatives within the last couple of years, particularly in the public sector, where traditional conservatism has ring-fenced emergent pockets of Champions.
- In the host organisations of this recent seminar, a fantastic core group of Champions has finally begun to emerge but, born of insights we have gleaned into their previous false dawns, the challenge for us was very much to emphasise the multi-paced nature of change.
Without explicit reference to the implications of The Conversion Cascade, it is hard to see how Champions unarmed with procedural and psychological subtleties cannot but fall victim to isolation and a slow death through mutual resentment.Related Articles: