- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Behaviours Create Culture

Daily Thoughts has evolved. New name and format. Rather than daily, I will share with you a weekly focus on culture change, leadership and organizational design fit for the future.

As we move into a new month, my focus is now on behaviours. “There is no change without behavioural change”.


Only behavioural change is real change

You can map new processes and re-arrange the organization chart. Install a new corporate software (ERP, CRM, etc.) and explain to people why this is good and necessary. Create a massive communication and training campaign and make sure that everybody has clearly understood where to go. Perhaps you’ve done this already and noticed that many people hang on to the old ways. That is because there is no change unless there is behavioural change. It is only when new behaviours have become the norm that you can say that real change has occurred. If you want a new culture, change behaviours. Cultures are not created by training.

You need to uncover the non negotiable behaviours

The trouble with value systems is that, very often, they have no proper translation into pragmatic and visible expectations that can be rewarded or not, accepted or not, and into something with unequivocal meaning. I have just defined ‘behaviours’.

For those of us sitting with one foot in the Behavioural Sciences, the use of the term ‘behaviour’ is far more restricted than the average often seen next to many vision and mission statements. For many years now, since the word ‘behaviour’ became more fashionable in the corporate and HR language, behavioural statements have populated Values/Mission/Vision sets, added there with the hope of increasing their ‘practical weight’.

But adding or labelling something as ‘behaviour’ does not make it one. Many behavioural translations of Values remain trapped into circular explanations, saying the same with different words. ‘Honesty’ as a value, as an example, could be ‘translated’ and explained as: ‘Act with sincerity and authenticity; be candid and open; create trust’. Which explains absolutely nothing about honesty, but looks like a solid line of ‘explanations’. Just hope that the consultant’s bill was not too high.

Creating a set of behaviours that are visible, reward-able, concrete and, above all, have unequivocal meaning, is key to being able to use them as a currency in the organization. (Honesty, sincerity, authenticity, candour, openness and trust do have equivocal meaning. None of them are behaviours).

Behaviours create cultures. Master behaviours, agree upon them, declare the non negotiable ones, spread them, and you’ll get culture. 


Homo Imitans

The Art of Social Infection; Viral Change™  In Action

Behaviours change culture, not the other way around. The spread of behaviours is the real source of social change. Behavioural imitation explains how social change happens, how epidemics of ideas are formed, how social fashions appear and how company cultures shape and reshape themselves. This book addresses Viral Change™ in action, showing that the more primal ‘Homo Imitans’ is still a powerful force. Understanding how social, behavioural infection works is the basis for the orchestration of any ‘epidemic of success’, be it a successful change inside a firm or a counter-social epidemic to tackle negative socio-macro phenomena.

Read chapter extract here [1]