Stop Whining! Yes, You Can Change Culture.

Oh, culture change is hard…

Oh, culture change is hard…

And it takes a very long time…

And we don’t agree on what culture actually is…

And besides, shareholders don’t really care about culture, only quarterly profits matter to them.

On and on it goes. The complaints about culture never seem to end.  Like the weather, everyone talks about it,yet few do anything real about it. But the truth is you don’t need a weather manto change culture.  It’s been done many times before.  And quickly.  But the key to changing culture lies not in addressing behavior itself, but with aggressively changing the basic organizational model it self; because this Enables the emotional experience.


In other words, you must change culture by making the soft stuff hard.


This key insight comes from a wonderful quote from Richard Pascale, the author of “Surfing on the Edge of Chaos,”

“Adults are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking than to think their way into a new way of acting.”

Therefore, paradoxically, the key to dramatically changing culture is through powerful organizational redesign. And strangely enough, the path to engagement lies in aggressive and thoughtful enablement in the following five ways.

1.   UnlockingEmpowerment, the opposite of control.

·      Creating bigger jobs with more decision-making autonomy as several consumer product companies have done in giving their CSRs an expanded ability to make decisions on their own

·      Shrinking wasteful management layers and expanding spans of control and altering the role of managers and supervisors from baby sitters to capability developers



2.   UnlockingFeelings of Achievement through Reward.  

·      Redesigning compensation to give more employees more skin in the game by expanding bonuses and options

·      Empowering coworkers to recognize one another thereby increasing feelings of Recognition, Respect, and Influence


3.   UnlockingMeaning to Drive Passion by providing an emotional connection, or personal growth.

·      Educating all employees on how the organizations works to provide a business context for everyone.

·      Redefining management work from baby-sitting to skill development.

·      Designing robust feedback metrics so everyone can learn.

·      Making the organization’s mission clear, obvious and true.


4.   Creating aMotivating Vibe

·      Automating brain-killing repetitive tasks (which drains the vibe away).

·      Providing funds for improvement experiments to encourage risks and learning (risk taking is a high vibe activity).


5.   Invest in your human assets

·      Spend real money on training, especially re skilling for data intensive work

·      Cross train employees to gain agility.


So, stop whining and start redesigning.



About Steve Stanton

Steve is the author of the recently published book, Smart Work: Why Organizations Full of Intelligent People Do So ManyDumb Things and What You Can Do About It.”  He is a pioneer of processinnovation. For thirty years his work has been focused on improving the capability of organizations to transform themselves.Mr. Stanton is also the co-author, withDr. Hammer, of “The ReengineeringRevolution” (HarperBusiness) and the Harvard Business Review article “How Process Organizations Really Work.” Mr.Stanton holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA from the Berklee School of Music.


About Frank Wander

Frank Wander, a former turnaround CIO, is founder and CEO of PeopleProductive (, a workforce productivity company that helps customers get the best out of their people. PeopleProductive is Talent Management Reimagined®.
He is also the author of Transforming IT Culture: How to Use Social Intelligence, HumanFactors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wiley Publishing). This unique book is the very first operator’s manual for the human infrastructure, and will help you successfully transform your leadership style and your organization.

Frank Wander

Frank Wander, a former CIO, is the founder and CEO of PeopleProductive (, and the author of Transforming IT Culture, How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wiley, 2013). This unique book is the first operator’s manual for human infrastructure and will help you successfully transform your leadership style and organization.

PeopleProductive has taken that concept to the human side of the enterprise. We similarly help you find, measure and fix a broad spectrum of behavioral, emotional and enablement issues. For the first time, you can eliminate the inefficiency that holds highly productive people back and measurably increase productivity.

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