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Create a Culture of Change – Transform Your Business

Create a Culture of Change – Transform Your Business

Because a change culture based on openness, diversity and purpose is the biggest competitive advantage in the market place

The world is changing. Fast. Nothing stays the same. The challenges have become very complex, and the future is uncertain. Particularly disruptive technologies (think Artificial Intelligence, Robotics or 5G Internet), the demographic trend and of course the digital revolution are the main reasons that markets are changing (some of them very dramatically) and that customers are behaving completely different than they used to do just a few years ago. Want a few examples? Amazon is starting to deliver parcels via drones, the first 3D printers are capable of producing nutritious food, and robots with artificial intelligence are already performing simple tasks in warehouses, assembly lines and even operating theatres. This has an impact on hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs that will simply become obsolete in the future. On top of that, entire industries are being shaken up. In just a few years, Facebook, Monzo, Uber or Tesla (to name just a few) have overtaken the big players in their respective markets and become the new benchmark.

Change culture beats strategy

Whether we like it or not, ver the past ten years, society and the way business works have changed more than in the previous hundred years. And the change is becoming more intense, because change has long ceased to be static but is a dynamic phenomenon which happens exponentially. We are just at the beginning of developments that will turn our everyday lives upside down again and again. Dealing with these changes no longer is a competence that is “nice to have” but one of the biggest competitive advantages in the markets of the future.

But how do companies react? Many still think that they are too big to fail, too successful make wrong decisions 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 and then became victims of exactly this way of thinking. However, the clever CEO´s, executives and managers have understood that it´s always easier to change from a position of strength and that you have to start the necessary transformation process today in order to still be successful in five to ten years’ time. Still, a lot of strategies are focused on classic change management, temporary projects or methods from HR development. Of course this is basically not wrong, but since organizations only change when the people change, at the end of the day it is always the attitude, the mindset and the change readiness of each individual employee that makes all the difference in the world.

Seven steps to create a culture of change

A change culture based on innovation, openness and the courage to try out new ways of doing things beats any business strategy, no matter how sophisticated it may be. Because you can count on one thing. If you are good, then your competitors will copy everything. They will copy your products. They will copy your prices. Eventually, the will even copy your whole marketing strategy. But they will never be able to copy your culture. Because it is unique. It is therefore worthwhile to establish a culture of change that is shared and lived by every single employee in the company. In this way, dealing with change does not become a necessary evil, but a self-evident attitude that will have 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 seven steps to establish a Culture of Change in your company that you can use as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the markets of the future.

Step 1: Culture needs to be the #1 priority for the top management

Change efforts never fail due to lack of knowledge, wrong methods or insufficient strategies. Of course the quality in these areas varies a lot,  but the main reason why necessary innovations are not implemented is simply the unwillingness of the people involved. If the people belonging to an organization approach their daily work with the wrong attitude, then the implementation of change and progressive ideas becomes extremely difficult. So don’t leave your company’s culture to chance, to any project groups or even to an external agency. The change culture is so crucial that it should have the highest priority. And that means from now on: Culture is a matter for you. The leader. The CEO. The boss.

Step 2: How does your current culture look like?

Take a close look and evaluate the initial situation. How is the general mood? What communication standards are in place? And what is the purpose of your company? The better you analyse the current situation, the easier it will be for you to determine the necessary measures, readjustments or changes in course. Ask many questions and involve your employees, customers and business partners as much as possible. The more openly you do this, the better. The more you create a sense of togetherness at this point, the stronger it will be later.

Step 3: Focus on your uniqueness

As tempting as it may be to orient yourself towards companies with a unique change culture, it is better to let that approach go right from the start. Of course, you can be fundamentally inspired by IKEA, Google or Company XYZ (please insert a brand you admire for their unique culture), but your company’s culture should be based on your vision, your values and your ideas about business. I even go one step further. The more personal your culture is, the more universal its impact will be on the inside and outside.

Step 4: Define your purpose

Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the purpose of your company? What vision do you share with your team? The answer to all these questions flows into your mission statement. Whenever you are uncertain about your basic direction, you can orientate yourself on this why. It gives you, your team and your customers clarity and orientation. And in times when everything around us is changing faster and faster, 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 core values. What is important to you? What are the main principles your business is based upon? 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 must be lived every day. And by all of them. Without exception. This means that your team must be able to identify with these values. If this is the case, it is the most important building block of a powerful change culture.

Step 6: Go first and live the change culture

As a leader you have to go first. I know I´m repeating myself, but this point is so crucial that it´s necessary. Establishing a culture of openness, flexibility and innovation is not something you theoretically define on the drawing board. Even less is it something you can delegate, buy, or implement in a one-off go. 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: Your employees ALWAYS come first

And finally, a step that is very likely the exact opposite of what you have heard, read and possibly even implemented so far. Because the consensus in business still is the following: The customer is king. And there’s a lot of truth in that statement, and I highly recommend that all your entrepreneurial efforts should be focused on the needs of your customers.

However, you should ALWAYS put your employees first. Only then will your customers, business partners and shareholders come. It is crucial to have high expectations, communicate clearly and make binding decisions. But at the same time, ensure a high level of appreciation and create an atmosphere in which your employees can grow and that gives 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? 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.

Best wishes

 

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