What is a normal conversation? Well, pick one or combinations: football, how the kids are doing, the pain of the new CRM, plans for holidays, the new office space, did you see the last TV episode of Y?, Peter has been promoted, use the gym at lunchtime, how helpful that talk was, OMG performance appraisals here again, did not realise your boy is in University, cafeteria is very crowded.
So if you want a culture of safety, for example, safety (I mean, safety, not the Health and Safety Department) needs to compete for airtime with football, CRMs, office space, the kids, then gym, the cafeteria and performance appraisals. Not at the same level? Only occasional references, and mostly about compliance? Embarrassing to even start a conversation about it? Sorry, you don’t have a culture of Safety.
Change Safety for Accountability, Empowerment, Customer-centrism. The same applies. That is the test.
Make your topic(s) normal, not forced, not embarrassing to talk about, not arriving with a corporate-language-tag. Then you are getting ‘a culture of’.
If this is so, top down systems of communication and indoctrination on X are not going to be tremendously successful at making X ‘normal’. You’ll need people having those conversations and other people copying them, creating a critical mass of ‘normality’. This is at the core of our Viral Change Mobilizing Platform. It has to be ‘orchestrated’ but not from the top. It has to be initiated by some. And you need to pick the ‘some’ carefully. These are people ideally highly connected an influential, if you want a scale effect. It has to become informal. But it won’t happen by miracle. Informality needs to be designed. Again, the principle we call precisely in Viral Change ‘Designed Informality’
And another thing. Don’t be fooled by the airtime dedicated to ‘training in X’. A ‘culture of X’ is not the same as a ‘culture of training in X’. A ‘culture of Safety’ is not the same as a ‘culture of training in Safety’. A ‘culture of Customer-centrism is not the same as a ‘culture of training in Customer services. A ‘culture of sales excellence’ is not the same as a ‘culture of training in sales excellence’. Actually, a culture of training in anything, produces more training, and becomes ‘a culture of training’. Full stop.