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Create a Change Culture – A Seven Step Guideline for successful Transformation

change culture

Because in disruptive Markets a change culture is the biggest competitive factor

Why should you care about a corporate change culture? Plain and simple: Because there is no alternative. The world is changing. Faster more intense and with exponential pace. Nothing stays the same. Especially disruptive technologies (thin AI, robotics, quantum computers etc.), demographic developments and the digital revolution are the main reasons that markets are changing dramatically and the consumer behaviour is completely different than just a few years ago. Want a few examples? Amazon has started to deliver parcels via drones, the first 3D printers are capable of producing nutritious food, and robots with artificial intelligence are already performing complex tasks in warehouses, assembly lines and even operating theatres.

This has a huge impact on hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs that will simply become obsolete in the future.  Entire industries are being shaken up. In just a few years, new business models like Facebook, Uber or AirBnB have overrun the big players in their respective markets and become the new benchmark.

A culture of change will be the most important competitive factor in the markets of the future Click To Tweet

Culture beats Strategy. Every single time.

Whether we like it or not. In the last ten years, our society and the way we do business have changed more than in the previous hundred years. And the according transformations are becoming more intense, because change is no longer static, but a dynamic phenomenon. We are only at the beginning of developments that will turn our everyday lives upside down again and again. Dealing with these changes has long since become more than just “nice to have” – it has become the most important competitive advantage in the markets of the future.

But how do most companies react? Many still think that they are too successful, too big and that nothing can happen to them. What a mistake. Just think of the Sony Walkman, the Kodak colour film or the Yahoo search engine. All three products were once the absolute number one worldwide. Until they no longer were. They have become a victim of their own way of backwards thinking. Thankfully, the majority of todays CEO´s have understood that you have to change today in order to still be successful in five to ten years’ time.

Unfortunately, however, the main focus is still on classic change management, temporary projects or methods from HR development. And of course there is nothing wrong with that, but it´s just no longer enough. Companies and organizations change, when the people change, and at the end of the day, it´s always the attitude and the mindset of each individual employee that makes the big difference.

Organizations change, when the people change. It´s about attitude. About mindset. About company culture. Click To Tweet

Seven Steps to establish a Culture of Change

A culture of innovation, openness and the courage to try out new ways of doing things beats any business strategy, no matter how clever it may be. Because it is so unique. Because you can count on one thing. If you are good (and I assume you are), then your competitors will copy everything. They will copy your products, your prices, probably even your marketing campaigns. But they will never be able to copy your culture. It is therefore worthwhile to establish a culture of change that is shared and lived by every single employee in the company.

By doing so, dealing with change transforms from being a necessary evil, but a natural attitude that has a positive effect on your sales, customer satisfaction and profitability at the end of the day. In the following I would therefore like to introduce you to my seven step approach to establish a culture of  change in your team, company or organization, which from today on will be your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the markets of the future.

Step 1: Culture cannot be delegated

When change efforts fail, it seldom due to a lack of knowledge, wrong methods or inadequate strategies. No, the main reason why necessary innovations are not implemented is simply the unwillingness and negative change readiness of the people involved. It is key that every single member of a team enters the workplace with the right (meaning positive, focused and open) attitude. If that´s not the case, the implementation of change and progressive ideas becomes extremely difficult. If you want to implement changes, then don’t leave your company’s culture to chance, don´t delegate it to project groups or even to an external agency. The change culture of your company is so important that it should have the highest priority. You as a CEO, boss or manager have to go first and inspire your people to follow your lead.

Step 2: Analyse how your current Culture looks like

Take a close look and evaluate the status quo. How does the predominant mindset look like? What communication standards are in place? And what is the company’s self-image? The better you analyse the current situation, the easier it will be for you to determine the necessary measures, readjustments or changes. Ask many (and the right) questions and involve your employees, customers and business partners. The more openly you do this, the better. The more you create a sense of teamspirit at this point, the stronger it will be later.

Step 3: Go your own Way

As tempting as it my seem to orient yourself towards companies with a unique change culture, it is key to go your own way from the very beginning. Of course it´s okay to get inspiration from successful brands like IKEA, Google, or Apple, but your but your company’s culture should be based on your vision, your values and your fundamental ideas about business. I even like to go one step further. The more personal and unique your culture is, the more universal the impact will be internally and externally.

Step 4: Define your Mission Statement

Why do you do what you are doing? What is the purpose of your company? What vision are you sharing with your team? The answers to all these questions flow into your mission statement (you can take a look at our mission statement here). Whenever you are uncertain about your fundamental direction, you can orientate yourself just by looking at it. By remembering your strong Why. It provides yourself, your team and your customers with clarity and orientation. And in times when everything around us is changing faster, more complex and intense, this is a beneficial exception.

Step 5: Define your core values

If there is one factor you should spend a lot of time on, it is your corporate core values. What is important to you? Which principles are most important? What is indispensable for you and what is an absolute “No Go”? The more precisely you define these values, the sharper your brand profile and thus your public reputation will become. And just so that we understand each other correctly, just making a list and sending it by memo to all employees is not enough. Every single company value needs be lived every day. By all of them. Without exception. This means that your team needs be able to identify with the values.

Step 6: Live the Change Culture

Even if I repeat myself, this point is so important, that I´m doing it anyway. Establishing a culture of openness, flexibility and innovation is not something you theoretically develop on a whiteboard. Even less is it something that you can delegate, buy or implement with a one-time action. No, if you decide to make your corporate culture a top priority, it means you have to work on it every single day from now on. Personally. Because a strong culture needs to be exemplified, intensified and fine-tuned. Just as the steady drop can withstand the stone, so your individual commitment implements the culture in the minds and especially the hearts of the people in your company.

Step 7: Put your employees first

And last, but not least a step that is most likely the exact opposite of what you have heard, read and possibly even implemented so far. Because the consensus in business is still the same: The customer is king. And apparently there is a lot of truth in that statement, because the customer should always be at the centre of all entrepreneurial efforts, after all he makes with his money he makes sure that we still have food on the table tomorrow.

Nevertheless, you should ALWAYS put your employees first. Only then should your customers, business partners and shareholders follow. I highly recommend that you have high expectations, communicate clearly and make binding decisions. But at the same time, empower your people, create a working environment in which your employees can grow and give each individual the opportunity to contribute their talents, strengths and ideas. Because if your employees enjoy coming to work with a high level of motivation and a lot of fun, then their satisfaction will increase and so will their performance. And this ensures that your customers, business partners and shareholders are treated with a completely different attitude.

Have you made a decision? Will you make the establishment of an innovative change culture in your company a top priority? Great decision. I wish you a lot of fun, joy and success with the implementation. And please feel free to write me your experiences, questions or opinions in the comment field. I am looking forward to an exciting discussion on the topic of change culture.

Let the Change begin!

Best wishes

 

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