The goal of culture change initiatives should be an organization that improves its ability to take self-corrective action at all levels. This type of organization is said to be one that learns, where there is a match between what it espouses and what it practices. For example, an organization espouses a management practice that does not tolerate persistent risky behavior and demonstrates this by taking remedial action immediately. In other words, learning occurs when there is a mismatch between what is espoused and what is actually practices so long as the gap is closed. The idea that organizations can learn may be confusing since an organization cannot think on its own. Organizational learning refers to the individuals who work in the organization; thus, their behavior defines whether the organization learns.
Your employees produce the behavior that is the genesis of organizational learning; therefore, addressing human performance elements is essential for creating a learning organization.
The Challenge… As experts in their field, your employees rarely experience being challenged or confronted about their views and decisions. Often, when they are confronted defensive behavior takes over and organizational adaptation or learning is stalled. This behavior is especially prevalent in monopolistic and public sector organizations because the marketplace does not penalize the organization, i.e., loss of customers. Worse yet, defensive behavior becomes “The way work is done around here” – it is the culture of our company. To improve this situation, management needs to monitor for both learning and non-learning behaviors as shown in the table.
We help all employees elevate their thinking in a way that diminishes “me only” thinking. We do this by helping them Reflect → Immerse → Grow © as described with the overview below:
Immerse – take action to develop new traditions of knowing by conducting employee discussions.
1. Create safe environment for critical thinking. Tactics include: identifying non-learning behaviors, learning to confront by reframing, etc.
2. Critical thinking workshop to raise awareness of personal bias, over active egos, imbalanced thinking, etc.
3. The components of dysfunctional teams are a key topic.
4. Defensive reasoning and win/lose mindset are major team dysfunctions and key topics.
Reflect – movement from a self to an organizational focus requires transformational learning through which questioning and reflection play a big part. The objectives in this phase include:
Readiness assessment for personal development.
Survey (written and/or verbal).
Qualitative assessment of environment, i.e., office layout, general atmosphere, level of bureaucracy, etc.
Grow – Reflect and Immerse provided the foundation; this phase is focused on inculcating the changes.
1. Inculcating the changes discovered in steps #1 & 2 requires an understanding of organizational leverage.
2. Creation of internal change agents.
3. Participants discover the power and validity of thinking globally versus linearly. Systems’ thinking exemplifies a learning organization.
4. Continual renewal, not “winning and losing” is a key focus for this phase.
Reflect → Immerse → Grow© is an educational process that Will:
1. Effect change through a process of authentic dialogue with all employees represented.
2. Teach your organization how to self-correct.
3. Build the foundation for your organization to self-correct and thereby adapt to changing conditions.
4. Take time.