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In yesterday’s Daily Thoughts, I shared a Cheat Sheet with 10 points on how to create a social movement. I said these are 100% valid to create a culture, shape a culture, and transform an organization. I equated social movement to company culture. Take a look, if you did not have a chance.

Here are now a more modest list of 5 things that don’t work, or don’t make any difference, or  are misguided focus of attention and, unfortunately, a way to steal air time and energy from the 10 points of yesterday. All these are, unfortunately again, a bit of sacred cows in Organizational Development/Culture, so, I am opening the season for potential ‘how dare you say that’, type of things.

These are the 5 Inconvenient Truths:

1. ‘Readiness to Change’ is a nice concept, but useless when you want to create a social movement/shape an organizational culture. People are always in different state of readiness. Measuring ‘readiness to change’ ( if there is a serious way to do this) does not change what you have to do. It’s a red herring.

2. A full-blown Organizational Culture Assessments is not a requirement to change a culture. Sorry. Most of those assessments are rich in data that do not change what one has to do. Having a score of X in Y does nor change  what you have to do to improve/change Y. By all means, do it if what you want is an illustration, scanning, material for discussion, dialog, an interesting conversation ( and the usual benchmarking ritual of comparing yourself with ‘the average’)  but don’t expect the assessment to tell you how to create the change and the social movement. Amongst other things, that assessment may be assessing something else. Assessment gives you labels for the culture. Sometimes the assessment sits first’, a pre-existing conceptual model, and then the results are fitted into that model. Sure, the labels are nice and clever. Good conversation. Very often, it’s less clear how to ‘change the label’ other than agreeing ‘we really need to go East’. So, go East.

Do we do assessments in The Chalfont Project? Yes we do, but they are behavioural assessments. Whilst most people assess where the dinner dish at the table is a good lasagne or bad Stroganoff, we assess instead the ingredients of the cooking in the kitchen.

3. The personality of the players (activists) is irrelevant. No social movement has ever been postponed until activists have done their MBTIs. Don’t delay the action. In any social movement, and therefore in culture change, they will be tons of different personalities involved. By all means, use tools if you want to help the leadership team/project team to work better together, but don’t infer change, or no change, from the results. Once the mountain is on fire ( an expression we use in Viral Change™ to describe the spread of behaviours), the mountain is on fire. The quality of the trees, or their dryness score, matter zero.

4. Don’t wait until the entire Leadership Team is on board. You will never start. Al you need is to have a big sponsor (Tip: target the CEO), two or three on board and the rest not blocking you. Aim at ‘letting you do it’ as opposed to everybody converted to the idea. Once you succeed, most of the sceptical senior will say that  this is how exactly they thought it should be done.

5. ‘All you need is love’ does not work. There are still reputable writers, bloggers, consultants and others saying: find the passionate people, the volunteers, the mavericks, the rebels, the ready to jump. These are all well and good, but you need a structure, a plan, a ‘mobilization plan’, or you will have hundreds of incredible enthusiastic and passionate ‘change agents’ creating havoc.

I have described how we do it, and we don’t do it, at Viral Change™. These (and yesterday’s) are not ‘theoretical’. Not after 15 years of cooking.

Let me repeat the most important bit. As soon as you stop thinking ‘culture change programme’ and start thinking ‘social movement’, all your premises shake, but a new world of possibilities opens up.

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