CX Club – Round 9 – Company Culture

In this next video in the CX Club series, Adrian Snook from Learning Accelerators and Ian Williams from Jericho look at company culture in terms of the way it relates to customer experience.

Is there such a thing as a single company culture?

#customerexperience #cx #cem #culture #companyculture


Ian: Hello everyone and welcome to CX club. I’d like to welcome my esteemed colleague Adrian Snook from learning accelerators. We’d like today to talk a little bit about cultural change and how it relates to customer experience. But first of all, before we go any further, we need to do a calibration question. First of all Adrian in your opinion, game of thrones or BattleStar Galactica, first series? 

Adrian: It’s got to be game of thrones, I think, hasn’t it? I mean for sheer majesty, bloodshed, and general sex and gore, game of thrones has definitely got it for me.

Ian: I think we clearly understand where Adrian stands on this. I’m sorry, but that was the wrong answer mate! 

Adrian: I’m sorry. I’m sorry about that, but there you go. The truth will out!

Ian: You failed! Right, thank you very much for joining us… No, we’ll carry on… Okay, so, just give us a little introduction about you and your background, and everything like that, so people that don’t know you…

Adrian: Okay, so my background isn’t actually in the customer experience space at all. I’ve spent the last 25 years working in custom learning solutions, so developing solutions using a whole range of technologies, to solve business issues or challenges that organisations have, so in computer-based training, in video production, in all kinds of digital solutions, 3-D, AR, VR. So essentially, I look at life through the prism of people and performance challenges, and then delivering solutions through whatever technology is appropriate at the time.

Ian: Okay, excellent. And you’ve got a background in culture, haven’t you, from an education perspective.

Adrian: My degree is actually in communication and culture with public media, so that’s from Leeds University. So, I look at a lot that is happening in the culture change space with a mixture of concern and incredulity, I think sometimes, 

Ian: Likewise in the customer experience space, hence the whole purpose of CX club.

Okay, so, just to introduce to everybody, were also going to be talking about employee experience, but we’re going to be treating that as a separate subject that kind of like bolts on to the conversation about cultural change. So, the first question that I have Adrian, is, in your opinion do you think that culture can be changed?

Adrian: I think I’d throw that back at you and asked the question why would you want to change something as ephemeral and tied up with society as a culture? Why would you want to change culture for its own sake?

Ian: Okay, so, of course, when we talk about cultural change, we are talking about cultural change within an organisation, I guess, but I suppose the real reason why organisations, the point that I would put forward is that the real reason why organisations want to change culture is because they want to improve the commercial performance of their organisation. 

Adrian: So really, your objective isn’t really changing culture at all, it’s changing behaviour. 

Ian: Yes, I guess so. But, the two are inextricably linked, I would argue and therefore…

Adrian: Yes, I think that most people accept that as a truth, if you like, but it can be very dangerous dangerous to start thinking about first of all, culture as something you can objectively judge, because to all intents and purposes, because if you’re immersed in an organisation, its culture becomes transparent. It’s the way you do things around here, it’s common sense. So if you’re in a culture it’s transparent, and the logic behind everything that happens is self evident. If you’re from outside that culture, if you’re not native to it, then it may well appear to be problematic, because you’ve got no real routing or understanding in how it is that culture came to evolve and why people value the things that they do. Culture is constructed through language and through a view of the world. And so, it’s very difficult to be objective about something as intangible as culture. 

Ian: But what you can be objective about is the commercial performance of an organisation.

Adrian: Yes, yes

Ian: And, of course, if you’re doing some kind of diagnostic on an organisation, and there could be a number of different reasons as to why an organisation is failing, and one of the generic terms I guess the gets used is that this organisation has a cultural problem. And therefore… I’ve seen this quite recently with the company that someone who is very close to me works for whose recently merged with another organisation, and the reason why is that they’ve had the same culture for years and years and years and years, the world around them has changed and they haven’t evolved. They still have the same belief system, they still have the same mindset, but unfortunately the commercials were going down the drain, and at that point, you have to change the behaviour of the organisation. So, I guess what you’re saying, that cultural change is a byproduct.

Adrian: Yeah, well, I think the thing is the first thing to bear in mind, is that it’s very seductive to think about any organisation is having a singular monolithic culture, and for organisations of any size in my experience that’s not really true. So, if you look at national organisation, you’re very likely to find that there are a number of different subcultures possibly within that national organisation, or even distinct cultures if part of the organisation is the result of a merger or acquisition. And particularly if the activities undertaken in those two bits of the organisation are fundamentally different. They do different things. They’ve employed a different people. They’ve got different management styles. There may well be a different cultural position in those areas, so, within a national organisation you have a range of different cultural belief systems, and they may well be changing through all kinds of influences over time anyway, and of course, within a multinational organisation you’ve got national cultures, and religious and ethnic sensibilities overlaid over those corporate cultures, so it’s a very very complicated picture, and sometimes when people are saying how can I improve my culture (singular), I look at that and I think, this person doesn’t really get it, do they? They don’t really understand the complexity of what they’re dealing with. 

Ian: You’ve spoken about pluralities… Can I just put my false teeth in… pluralities of culture…

Adrian: Yes. So, really there is a plurality of culture involved, and so I think, one of the challenges for leaders is they will often go to leadership and management, mainly leadership courses and then what will be, you know, very much stressed is that it’s their responsibility to change the culture of the organisation, well, let’s just take a step back and go, okay well, why is the culture of the organisation as it is, it’s evolved the way it has for some good reasons, some things may have changed, some of the things might have not, but everybody within that belief system is currently wedded to it, so if you want to go around making a difference as a leader, and I’m sure that most, but everyone will, you have to start looking at that culture from a number of different perspectives to try to actually establish the picture. Is it a monolithic culture, are there pluralities of cultures, and what behaviours do you believe are problematic that are linked to that culture. And if those behaviours are problematic, be very clear about what it is you’re trying to change. And recognise the cultures are resistant, implicitly resistant, because they are belief systems, and those belief systems are held by people, so if you set out to challenge them head on, without necessarily appreciating the background and the reasons why things are the way that they are, why people value the things they value, will either resist or more dangerously, what they will do is pay lip service to the change you want to make, whilst in point of fact doing nothing. And you do see this in organisations, where people learn quite quickly about the tall poppy syndrome, there are people that will stand up and resist, and they will have their heads cut off by the mower…

Ian: And sometimes… Sometimes… If ultimately we are trying to change behaviours and that’s because we’re trying to change the way an organisation operates, sometimes, unfortunately, it’s something that we don’t often like to talk about, but it may be necessary on occasion, that some of the poppy heads need to get cut off in order for the organisation to survive.

Adrian: But, I think you have to be careful, because there are situations where, if somebody adopts that simplistic mindset that says “we have a culture within this global organisation, it’s a culture that is driven here from Chicago, or from San Francisco, or from London and we’re going to change that culture globally through intent and management downwards, then people may resist for very good reasons. They may resist because they’re trying to save that organisation from the unintended consequences of their own decision.

Ian: I personally experienced that.

Adrian: Oh, whereabouts?

Ian: I worked, gosh, it’s nearly 20 years ago, for a telecommunications company, their head office in the UK was based in Northampton, and I was in charge of launching that organisation in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The head office, the parent company, was in Texas, and I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with Texans before, but they have a completely different mindset and approach to the way that things work in Europe, and of course, in Europe, we not talking about one culture, with talking about lots of different cultures. If you think about the… If I were to kindly describe the Texan attitude is a little bit wild West, let’s throw a lot of mud at the wall and see how much sticks, whereas in Britain were a lot more reserved and I would argue, and I can say this as I was born in Germany and went to university in Germany, the Germans are, not necessarily more reserved than British people, but certainly more cautious than British people, and they like to be informed to an Nth degree of detail before they make a decision about how to do things, and therefore in that situation we knew that if we try to to adopt a Texan cultural approach to launching telecommunication services in Germany, it just wasn’t going to work, so… Sorry to interrupt you there…

Adrian: No, that’s fine. I think you’re right. What will happen is that the native culture will go into gorilla mode, it will pay lip service to what you’re asking them to do, and they will actually, where it is prudent to do so, not do what you’re asking them because they want to continue to deliver a good performance for their business units and avoid aggravating customers through sensitive and inappropriate approaches.

Ian: And what we had to do eventually was that… It was direct marketing, the main mode of customer acquisition, and what we actually had to do was to test market several different campaigns, test market a Texan campaign against a British campaign versus the German campaign, and, of course, which won one? Obviously the German one performed better than the British one and the British one performed better than the Texan one. And it was at that point the head office in Texas said okay, let’s just let these guys get on with it.

So, you’ve spoken about challenges for change, you spoken about plural… I can’t get that word out… pluralities of culture, and we’ve talked about, I suppose you could call it the subversive resistance…

Adrian: Yes. For good or bad reasons. It may be that it’s because they’re trying to insulate the customer or the market from things you’re asking them to do that aren’t appropriate in their locality, but make a great deal of sense somewhere else. And they may actually be resisting for other reasons, but I take the view that people’s perception is reality, that their worldview is your worldview, and if you fail to make the case for change, in a sufficiently compelling way for them to actually review and change their behaviour, then that is the route of the problem.

Ian: And often, that can be seen by senior management as stubbornness and resistance, but often it’s there for a very very good reason, or as you say because you haven’t made a compelling enough argument as to why the of the other behaviour is better. 

Adrian: I suppose, when I was saying previously that why would you want to change culture, I think culture changes as a result of a range of communication and policy, process and procedure changes in an organisation, and if you tell a suitably compelling story, a new narrative, if you like, for the business or the organisation, and the part you want employees to play in it, if you get them to reframe their view and you make it easy to do the right thing and much harder than it used to be to do the outdated previous behaviour, in time the culture will begin to adapt. But, in many cases, the reason why the native cultural instincts and behaviours behaviours are so ingrained is, successive generations of managers have ingrained them….

Ian: Just coming back to that in a second, because I’d like to talk about how we go about changing culture, but before that, I remembered that when we had a conversation a couple weeks ago, you also mentioned about with cultural change that another one of the big challenges, as you’ve spoken about the pluralities of culture change and the resistance against culture change, but one of the other things I remembered you mentioning was that culture wasn’t static either.

Adrian: No, I mean, culture is something that responds to outside influences, and we can all think of situations, even over the last 15 years where business culture has changed quite radically, I used to… Back in the 1990s, I used to run training courses at Bass Brewers distribution training centre at Wetmore Road in Burton on Trent, and there was a free bar at lunchtime in the training centre, and…

Ian: What are we doing here?

Adrian: Yeah I know! And we’d break for lunch, and we’d go “who wants to be Barman today?” and one of the delegates on the training course would get behind the bar and they’d pull a few pints and then we’d settle back to a nice afternoon, and of course the atmosphere…

Ian: Are you saying that’s a bad thing?

Adrian: I’m not saying it’s a bad or a good thing, I’m just saying it’s changed, you know, and the idea that culture is either static or singular is mistaken. I think we can all think of situations where there are things like the me to movement, you know even over a comparatively short period of time, businessmen were going to charity lunches or dinners staffed by young ladies wearing skimpy costumes, and a year later after Harvey Weinstein, that was no longer even remotely acceptable, so culture can change very rapidly, and its unpredictable how fast, and sometimes it can be a surprise to those people concerned. So, I think we need to look at business culture as a subset of wider social thinking. So, for someone to position themselves as an expert in culture change, it’s a very high test and I would probably suggest that actually it makes much more sense for people to focus on what it is that they want to achieve, to understand that people behave the way that they do because they have a mental picture of the world, and a set of values that says doing this is the right thing, doing that is the wrong thing. If you want them to change, you have to get them to understand the reasons why it’s in society’s interest it’s in the interests of the employer and the interests of the customer to change, and in their own personal interest to change. If you get all those things lined up, you change the policy, process and procedure in such a way that it becomes easy to do the things you want to happen and hard to do the things you don’t want to happen, and you remove the previous policies and processes and procedures which probably were put in place to drive what are now outdated behaviours, then you can move forward.

Ian: I’d like to investigate policies procedures and processes in a second, as part of the next question, which is… and I have a view on this, and I’d like to share that as well… Do you think that culture can be changed quickly?

Adrian: I think there’s a famous quote from a Chinese head of state when he was asked what did he of the results of the French Revolution, if it was a good thing or a bad thing, he said that it was probably a little bit too early to tell…

Ian: Was he eating cake at the time?

Adrian: So quickly or slowly is an interesting concept..

Ian: But from an organisation’s perspective, if they’ve identified that culture change is the biggest issue they have in terms of negative commercial performance, and when I say culture change what I mean is wanting to change the behaviours of their people and whether you argue, that the cart and the horse, which way they go around, but whether it’s behaviour and culture or culture and behaviour, I would argue that they are inextricably linked. But, when there is an imperative, the commercial imperative to make changes quickly, and culture is the problem behind the underperformance of the organisation, can an organisation do anything quickly about that?

Adrian: I think if you’re talking about time, you have to think about smart objectives. So, if you’re saying can I change culture within a particular time frame, quick or slow, I’d say how you going to measure that, because it’s going to have to be measurable in some way is can have to be attainable, it’s going to have to be realistic, it’s got to be time bound. So, it kind of raises the other question, which is in any organisation, what gets measured gets done…

Ian: I’d like to talk about measurement in a little bit, but… Sorry to jump in there Adrian, because measurement is a topic… I’ve got a piece of paper. Were going to be talking about measurement and a little bit. I want to make sure that we’re going down a particular path. In terms of whether culture can be changed quickly, my observations from having done work, is that you can’t necessarily change culture quickly, but what you can do is that you can kick start cultural change, and one of the examples that I regularly come across is where organisations need to go through some kind of commercial transformation process, and you spoke about policy, process and procedure, changing those things changes behaviour, but my experience has been that if you impose changes to policy procedure and process on employees, often they will pay lip service to it, or they will adopt the changes and then within a few weeks they’ll go back to the way that they’ve always done things, and the only times where I’ve seen policy, process and procedure really being successful is where organisations have actually said, who understands the customer best of all? The frontline staff. The frontline staff understand the customers best of all. Nobody goes to work to do a bad job. 

Adrian: True, true…

Ian: Most people end up being unhappy in their jobs because they go into an environment, the culture isn’t very nice and they end up being demotivated. But if organisations can say “we need to change”, let’s put the change process, the transformation process into the hands of the employees. We will steer from the back and they will change from the front. The front line team say “wow, we are being allowed to own the transformation process”, it is, in of itself, cultural transformation. Now, there is an argument to say is that culture change, or is that kickstarting culture change? What do you think?

Adrian: There’s an old Ethel Mirman song called…

Ian: What?

Adrian: There’s no Ethel Mirman song…

Ian: Who’s Ethel Mirman?

Adrian: Ethel Mirman, for those of you who don’t remember her, was an old…

Ian: You’re giving your age away. You’re 56! 

Adrian: I know, I know! She was very energetic music hall artiste called Ethel Mirman…

Ian: Music hall artiste!

Adrian: Who used to sing a song with the lyric it’s not where you start it’s where you finish. And I would take the view that actually, in culture change, the reverse is true. It’s not where you finish it’s where you start.  That is very important, because you have to ask yourself the question, well, which member of an executive board would have a KPI that involves covers changing the culture in one year, two years, three years or four years, and if you did, how would you measure that? So, I think it’s all about, being very clear about what it is you want to change in terms of things you can measure, which isn’t culture by and large, it’s all about behaviours and the beneficial or otherwise impacts of those KPIs.

Ian: So, I suppose, if you go about trying to change culture, arguably the only way to measure a change in culture is to measure the changes in the way the organisation operates.

Adrian: Yes, and it may be that the indexes are things like HR events, calls to whistleblower lines. It may be measured through things that are more traditional customer experience types of metric…

Ian: Employee experience… Employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction et cetera et cetera…

Adrian: So all of those things, those things can be divvied up across a management team and you can have someone with laser focus looking at any and all issues that would have a contributory positive or negative effect. I mean, the beauty of your approach is that there is a limited time span to achieve change, which is driven by investors, so if you tell the city we are going to achieve X or Y, you’d better be absolutely sure and confident you can deliver X and Y in that time.

Ian: So, if we go back to Ethel, our friend Ethel, and the fact that the reverse of what she was singing about is true, then I guess what you’re suggesting, if I’m interpreting this correctly, is that by initiating cultural change… Or transformational change within an organisation by giving control of that to the front line teams is certainly a good starting position.

Adrian: Well, essentially what you’re doing is that your changing the interface layer with the customer first, because that is where you’re going to see, in the customer experience dimension at least, the biggest impact and the patience of investors isn’t limitless. If they can see that you’re having beneficial impact and you pick a number of KPIs you know you can move, then investors will go “okay, you’re on a journey here. I understand that it might not take a year to move some of the other KPIs, but you’ve clearly got your priorities right. So, I think that it’s not purely about changing policy, process and procedure, it’s also about reframing what has changed for the employees concerned…

Ian: And this is the whole argument of the service profit chain, the argument that in order to bring about real improvement in customer experience, what you should really do is focus upon changing employee experience, and if you focus upon improving the experience of the employees and you tell the employees what is expected of them in terms of the delivery of customer experience, that you don’t need to worry about customer experience. Give your employees a good experience and they will give your customers a good experience.

Adrian: And if you’ve got that consistency, if you’re creating a zone of freedom within them, within their job remit, and your consistent about the values you would like them to apply when given that discretion, then you’ll get a positive outcome, you may also have to put in place some kind of checks and balances behind the scenes to make sure that they are continuing to do that in a way that is not seen seen to be intrusive or encroaching on those zones of freedom.

Ian: And this is something that American Express really prided themselves on. So, when we are talking about change, we are talking about change almost 2 levels. So, I’m talking about it at a transformational level, whereby you set up a project team which is led by frontline staff to bring about long-term transformation to the organisation, resolving those recurring issues whereby you need to do some kind of root cause analysis to get to the root of the problem. I guess what you’re introducing here is the idea of empowerment, empowering employees at a transactional level, whereby you’re giving them the parameters, where they can… Within certain parameters, they are empowered to a certain level of discretion to make the decisions that need to be made.

Adrian: And I think that we’ve now reached a point where the cost of a customer experience issue, through the magnifying lens of social media can become completely… If you set the threshold for management intervention too low, you’re running the risk that the genie will be out of the bottle from social media point of view before you can close the problem.

Ian: And that’s something that changed enormously in our world, within the last 20… Well it’s probably even less than 20 years, isn’t it?

Adrian: Yeah, well a good example… John Timpson, I’m not sure if he’s still plying the speaker circuits, but I once saw John Timpson speak, he’s the family member who was leading at the time the Timpson shoe repair and key cutting businesses around the UK, and they have a policy that if you have a problem with a key you’ve had cut or a pair of shoes that you’d had repaired, and the repair fails, any employee in Timpson’s has the discretion to refund you up to £50, which is more than every bill, on the spot or to do a repair at your choice, no need to escalate anywhere it’s just an accepted way of doing business.

Ian: And I know of organisations today who have middle management or even senior middle management that don’t have that kind of budgetary signoff.

Adrian: So you have have to ask yourself what does it say about the way the organisation views its employees, that means that that is a problem, and if you’ve got that kind of culture, actually the idea that you might delegate that to the front line will become inherently very frightening to the apparently disempowered line managers, who previously probably quite enjoyed that power, and also to the employees, who are never used to having it, so that in itself requires a cultural change, and I think that’s the cause and effect, it’s the change in policy, process and procedure drives culture change. We haven’t really talked about organisational change, but, of course, that’s the other major issue is that organisational transformation might be associated with a desire to change culture or it might not.

Ian: Okay so in terms of… we spoke about a little bit of about the role of leadership within cultural change as well, certainly my experience has been that even if you’ve got flexible cultures, even if you’ve got, I’m going to attempt to say that word again, pluralities of culture going on as well, providing a single common focus the not necessarily everybody makes 100% of their belief system, but they can adopt and adapt to their own individual belief systems, can provide everybody with a common focus by believing in something at a central point that the leaders have put in place, hence the reason why many organisations do mission, vision, values and objectives in order to make that happen. Is that your experience?

Adrian: It makes absolute sense. If a leader can coherently explain the position the organisation is in, if he can communicate the challenges that the leadership team and the organisation at large are facing, and the reasons why he wants people to do things differently and he lives, he or she lives those values in the way that they deal with their peers, their subordinates, and also in the way that they deal with any customers that they may encounter, then that’s probably that something that would people would begin to take on board and accept, but I don’t think that culture change is purely a leadership challenge, it’s a leadership and management challenge and the problem is that people tend to bracket those two things together, and they even send people on leadership and management courses.

Ian: I think a lot of people have absolutely no understanding as to what the difference between leadership and culture might be…. 

Adrian: Well, that’s… I think…

Ian: …sorry leadership and management

Adrian: Leadership and management. Because you need… whilst the person at the top, whoever they are can act as an exemplar, and they can select a senior leadership team, who are similarly inclined and may be suitably diverse or whatever, you’ve still got a history of all those layers of managers underneath, many of whom have been brought up underneath the previous regime and will may well still be wedded to a lot of behaviours from the past, so it’s how you actually pull the organisational levers to achieve change through the silos, through the layers of management, and that involves more than just leadership it requires outstanding management, of organisational design, if you’re changing the organisation in the way operates, structures and also outstanding abilities to execute increasingly on systems as an expression of business processes.

Ian: Systems, but the other thing but I would make mention of, it reminds me of a story I was told about by gentleman called Sean Risebrow, who I think is now the director of customer experience with BUPA, and he spoke about the fact that it’s not just organisational change, it’s not just the systems, but also the way in which your transformation programme is structured and the things that really hit home with me in the story that Sean tells is first of all if you want to quickly get people who are resistant to an idea on board you have to, I think we called it The Big Gesture or something, you have to be able to go about doing some kind of gesture that persuades the organisation you actually seriously business now and I remember when he was a virgin what they did there was that they used to charge customers to ring into customer helpline and the big challenge your was how do we persuade the organisation to give those calls away for free to customers, because we would lose something like £60 million worth of revenue if all of a sudden we lose these telephone lines, but they made the leap of faith, they made the decision to get rid of these charged customer calls and as a result of that the organisation said wait a minute, you know what, they mean it this time, we’ve heard it all before, cultural change blah blah blah, yes but wait a minute they’re actually doing something that we know is a negative thing for customers, so they must mean it this time. The other factor that they put into place was when they built the program for cultural change, they recognised was that it wasn’t going to be a quick thing in order to change people’s behaviours as you quite rightly put at the heart of this, so they said that when they built their transformation programme, they built in cycles and there was actually five stages to the transformation programme, and the very early cycles were very much about making difficult decisions, sometimes making people redundant and trying to cut down on costs in order they could free up money to plough into the transformation programme, so if you’re going to really bring about transformational change and include culture change within that you going to have to recognise it’s gonna take a long time, that there are going to be no quick fixes. I often get sick employee engagement programs that end up being razzle and jazz hands and the aim is let’s try and change the culture, but they’re trying to do it in a matter of weeks and everyone knows that that’s not going to bring about real behavioural change.

Adrian: On the face of it, you understand that to be the case. I think the thing is, the more deeply entrenched People’s views, the more resistant they are to steps which imply error or fault, or the compelling need for them to change without a full appreciation of the reasons why they hold the views they do, and, I think, you know as recent politics has recently demonstrated…

Ian: Who are you talking about?

Adrian: Well I think in general if you’re trying to persuade somebody’s perspective you have to engage with them, why they hold the views that they do and then if you can essentially give them new information which means that they…

Ian: Alternative facts?

Adrian: Not alternative facts, no facts, actual genuine facts that essentially allow them to say okay well I held this view sincerely, now I understand the situation is not as I had understood it, I’m prepared prepared to change my worldview, but if you get into a situation where you’re describing a culture is bad or incorrect or inappropriate by definition you’re blackening or tarring…

Ian: People will automatically resist it…

Adrian: … the entire workforce as people have inappropriate views or inappropriate opinions and if you’re going to change behaviour, why go there, why run that risk?

Ian: Yes, I suppose it’s a slow and steady behavioural change that’s measurable, so you can measure the degree of change, but also that… it’s got to be sustainable hasn’t it?

Adrian: It’s got to be sustainable, but I think if you start, you know, close to the front line, if you start with KPIs which are the most important from the perspective of investors and customers, then you can have a change programme which is self funding in financial year, it’s delivering a return, so you can and then once you’ve actually achieved whatever you’ve achieved in that year, then you could have a multi-year program that takes you into other KPIs which may be less significant.

Ian: And we are going to be talking… We have spoken about this, and we are going to be talking more about the importance of quick wins, there’s got to be, if you’re going to invest in any kind of change programme, there’s got to be short-term return on investment in order to…

Adrian: And I think that that implies to employees too, I mean, there is in every organisation at every level is a high level of self-interest. 

Ian: Absolutely!

Adrian: If you come up with a new way of doing something which requires a change, which in itself is therefore difficult, because you’re subconsciously competent at doing something the established way, doing something new is inherently harder, it’s more cognitive load, if it starts to become very clear that actually this is driving a better result for your business unit, for your personal compensation plan, then employees are going to look much more favourably when you bring them some other proposed change in the organisation. 

Ian: Because they see the personal…

Adrian: They’re stakeholders, absolutely. So, if to summarise it’s not really as complicated it seems, it’s about acknowledging the strengths of the organisation as you inherited it if you’re a leader, acknowledging that the behaviours you see exhibited as a result of the many cultures that exist…

Ian: …are there for a reason!

Adrian: Are there for a reason and were once probably virtuous. Not all of them will have stopped being virtuous…

Ian: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Adrian: Yeah, some of them may require change, but to persuade people to change you need to explain in a way that is very compelling, as a narrative, why they need to change and then you need to empower them through’s changes in structure, policies, process and procedure in such a way that safely they can embrace a new way of working and if you do that in a way that is prioritised by proximity to the customer experience, and by behaviour changes that have the biggest impact for investors and customers, then you also get a virtuous circle that’s set up amongst investors who say “look this management team is doing a job, they’ve achieved some things this year, let’s stick with them for next year and see what they can achieve if they extend that approach”, and then the pressure about getting to your endpoint, achieving culture change, starts to become a bit irrelevant. 

Ian: Becomes less of an issue…

Adrian: And since you can’t measure it anyway…

Ian: How often do people start long-term programmes and never get to the end of it, because they… for them, what they’re not doing is that they’re not having that staged approach that Sean Risebrow put in place with objectives set at each stage so that you know whether your achieving what you set out to achieve in the beginning.

Adrian: And maybe the time has come for an agile approach to culture change in the sense that you do minimum viable product initiatives in year, and you say let’s focus on this area…

Ian: And you can only do that if you treat cultural change as a behavioural change process. 

Adrian: And if you take it down to its lowest viable subunit level, reflecting the fact that there’s a plurality of cultures, if you have KPIs that are poor, take a look at your organisation, slice and dice the data in the way that you can do Ian. Slice and dice that data to see are these behaviours uniformly spread across the population of employees, or is it grouped according to previous lines of acquisition, is it to do with fault lines that exist in the organisation, or is it indeed to do with geography or culture at a broader sense, and then targeting your interventions as sprints in those areas could well, you know, return very significant returns on investment, and as a consequence of those sprints, which in themselves, if they’re based around employees helping to work out the solutions to their problems with local champions, it’s probably a much more practical way of going forward, as opposed to a more traditional cascade model, multi-year program, where we going to run campaigns, because the likelihood is in five years times, the culture will need changing again, because the world is moving too fast.

Ian: As you say, it’s not static.

Adrian: It’s not static, absolutely.

Ian: Okay, well, right I think we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you, formal handshake there, thank you ever so much for your time. Hope everybody enjoyed that.The next video… I haven’t even looked at the topic list yet, but we’re going to be coming onto our next video in a few days time. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you’ve got any questions, if you got any comments then please feel free to fire them into CX club and if you’ve got any contributions you like to make please make comments, please feel free to share the content.

Thank you very much Adrian and cheerio!

Adrian: Thank you