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Changing corporate culture is heavy-duty stuff.

This isn't the sort of challenge you take on simply because it sounds good. Or because it's the "in thing" to do these days.

You do it because you have to in a desperate attempt to survive. Or if you're lucky—and smart enough—you do it before you have to, knowing you must if the organization is going to maintain a competitive edge in today's rapidly changing marketplace.

Most organizations don't have the foresight to change their culture before the world forces it on them. Some start, then don't have enough determination to see the effort through. Others keep tinkering with their culture, but the world of change outruns them. These companies lose control over their destiny.

Some that recognize the need to change deceive themselves, thinking they can achieve a cultural transformation without pain and chaos. But it just doesn't work that way. As this handbook points out, overhauling the culture is an agonizing process. Still, if you carry out culture change correctly, the payoff is worth the price of admission. It's also a lot less painful than having the marketplace slowly drive a stake into the heart of the organization.

Follow the guidelines given here, and you can achieve dramatic culture shifts in record time. It's the best way to protect the organization's future.


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Don't Let the Existing Culture Dictate Your Approach.

Your approach to changing the culture should be highly out of character for the organization. Choose methods that stand in stark contrast to standard operating procedures. From the very outset you must free yourself from the existing culture and conceive a plan of action that starts to liberate the organization from its past.

Culture change moves at a slow crawl if the existing culture gets to call the shots on methodology. Or to put it another way, you'll have trouble creating a new culture if you insist on doing it in ways that are consistent with the old one. Remember, the old culture is designed to protect itself, not to bring about its own demise.

This sounds obvious. You'd think people would see the logic for deliberately violating the culture that's in place. After all, not following the rules is a good way to signal that the rules are being changed.

But organizations keep falling into the trap of letting the existing culture dictate the terms and conditions regarding how the change will be carried out. Instead of drawing up a course of action that is deliberately foreign to the existing culture, they're prone to adopt a strategy that is too compatible. The organization's ingrained way of operating is allowed to determine the "legitimate" methods for changing the culture.

This makes no more sense than trying to win a war while letting the enemy design your battle plans. So why does it happen?

It happens because culture wields great power over what people consider permissible and appropriate. The embedded beliefs, values, and behavior patterns carry tremendous voltage. The culture sends its current into every corner of the organization, influencing virtually everything. If you're not careful, the old culture will permeate your game plan for change like a lot of bad wiring, and will short-circuit your chances for success.

It just doesn't make sense to try to change culture according to the old rules. The rules themselves are part of the problem. You should choose a change strategy that runs contrary to cultural habits. Defy tradition. Disregard the managerial norms that safeguard the established (but outdated) way of doing business. Flout the values and symbols that are relics of an antiquated culture, because that itself is symbolic in a very important way.

Your style, technique, and overall strategy for culture change should be alien to the status quo.


End of sample.

This is a sample. Click here to purchase the toolbook.