Possibility is perhaps the most beautiful word in management. There are organizations in which possibilities seem exhausted, work is an extrapolation from day to day, people do their jobs, perhaps well, but there are no expectations of going outside the borders of the job.
I call these cultures ‘monochrome’. In monochrome companies, all the colours of life have been filtered and have been harmonised, so all is rather predictable. Some of those monochrome cultures actually dwell in technicolour brands for the outside world, but the possibilities of colour have been suppressed inside. They also tend to have lots of process junkies, who need treatment, no management.
It’s hard to change a monochromic environment. People seem to wear psychological sunglasses. Any suggestions of revising default positions (in management, leadership practices, culture change) are met with defence, as if a flotilla of Vikings had been spotted on the horizon.
Change in monochrome cultures almost never takes place at the core of the business. The only hope is to open some windows in the periphery so that the sun and the colours can get in. ‘Core people’ are usually very busy refining their defences, particularly in central corporate functions, the modern corporate Royal Court (or the Vatican’s Curia) which self-declared roles are protection and filtering of disruptive contaminations.
For years, middle management in organizations has been demonised as the culprit for all information blocks and defence building. My experience is that those who demonise that layer (usually named as ‘they’) have a lot more to answer for themselves. By suppressing possibilities, distributing sunglasses, and closing the doors and windows (and only some people have the keys) The Protectors bring a predictable monochromic future.
I very often see the disconnect between a technicolour company for the outside world, with their CEOs going on TV preaching innovative disruption, values and high purpose, and their monochrome cultures inside where process junkies remain addicted and untreated. This dichotomy has always been a bit of mystery to me. Similar to the one seen in many ‘commercial’ and ‘sales and marketing’ organizations, supposedly full of experts in these disciplines, that, however, can’t market or sell a thing inside to employees.
The process of infiltrating monochrome cultures is a fantastic challenge. When the tapestry of colours gets it, it is a real joy. But winters are longing for spring. Bring in people at all levels, including C-level, who can spell possibilities. Tell the Global Functions Courtiers that there are no Vikings after all. Stop blaming the middle, look up a little bit instead. And, if you are up to it, start some insurrections inside.
Above all, avoid monochrome cultures. Black, or pink, or indigo, but one colour. You’ll suddenly see possibilities coming in. Instead of those Vikings.
There is no change unless there is behavioural change. From supporting your business as you adjust to the ‘new normal’ through our Feed Forward 90-day programme to driving large scale cultural and behavioural change that is sustainable for the long term through Viral Change™ – we are your organization architects.
FEED FORWARD – 90 day programme
Feed Forward from The Chalfont Project, will help you create sustainable behavioural and cultural change across your organization/team/department.
Using the Five Disciplines of Viral Change™ we have developed Feed Forward. Why? Because post Covid-19 to combat the organizational impact of the pandemic, we’ll need a behavioural counter-epidemic inside the company. This can be done but requires a real social movement, not the traditional ‘change programme’.
At The Chalfont Project, we have been orchestrating internal social movement in organizations for many years and we are ready to help you now, using the Five Disciplines of Viral Change™:
- 1. Behaviours (what are your key behaviours?)
- 2. Peer-to-peer networks (the greatest force in any organization)
- 3. Influence (identify your key influencers)
- 4. Storytelling (stories are more powerful than facts)
- 5. Leadership (which needs to own the ‘new normal’).
Contact The Chalfont Project team to find out more information about Feed Forward, or to discuss how we can support your business.
Viral Change ™: model, method and way of life, all in one
Viral Change™ uses the power of a small set of well-defined non-negotiable behaviours, spread by small groups of highly connected individuals within the organization. Their peer-to-peer influence – more powerful than hierarchical one – creates new norms, new ways of doing, new cultures. When groups start doing things the new way, other groups follow. Stories of success spread. Stories are memorable, behaviours are contagious… bullet points are not. There are great similarities between biological infection and idea infection. For proof, just look at any social phenomenon around you!
Viral Change™ is a way to understand the organization as an organism instead of a machine. It is a method to create large scale change to meet specific business objectives. It is also a day-to-day way of life in the organization in a permanent state of readiness. If you want to master any of these, we’ll be there to guide and work with you.
Contact us today to find out more about Viral Change™.
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