In a large company, what do a leadership development, a culture change and a business integration programme typically have in common ? That they don’t talk to each other.
Fragmentation of ‘corporate initiatives’ is a common disease in many companies. Like those original French cakes, they live in a mille-feuille world of parallel layers on top of each other with no connection other than nominal.
Leadership development workshops and activities are cascaded down via the organization pipes. Cultural change programmes are equally cascaded down in the same format, which is even worse since cultural change is not instructional top-down communication (not even instructional top-down communication, awareness and rational and emotional engagement; that is cultural broadcasting). Business integration programmes are structured as process integration (and, perhaps, simplification or consolidation) usually taken those processes as independent pieces of the machine that can be polished, oiled or upgraded.
The tragedy of it all is that leadership development runs independently from culture change, and neither of them seem to have any influence in business integration.
This mille-feuille, multi-layer approach is very common and, very often, attempts to explain that this is no the case, and all is part of a global HR strategy, or business strategy, is equivalent to saying that all trains to the south of England depart from Waterloo station. Yes, they do, then they don’t touch each other, ever.
In 2016, the answer to this poor state of affairs, which has remained unchallenged for decades, is to think, and structure, in terms of ‘platform’. A (mobilizing) platform is an ecosystem of behavioural rules, ways of collaboration, peer-to-peer networks and a single ‘engine room’ in which all human capital initiatives, be leadership, culture, talent etc., sit. Viral Change™ is for us that mobilizing platform. It is inconceivable that ‘initiatives’ could have a life of their own. That does not mean that each of them don’t have their own sponsors, accountable people or partial goals. But they all sit and live together.
In my experience, what this is acknowledged and seriously tried, it is not as difficult as it seemed originally. Most sensible people would agree that it makes sense, despite not been the traditionally way we have managed these ‘programmes’.
A platform is not a collection of methods. It is a host with rules and principles. For example, top-down communication has limited effectiveness, peer-to-peer is the stronger source of influence in the organization, behaviours are the only thing visible and scaleable, the informal organization has richer innovation mechanism that the formal one, etc. Once these principles and their social algorithms (‘if so, we would always do A instead of B’) are in place, the mobilizing platform is the universal host.
In 2016, there are ways to stop corporate mille-feuille management. A single platform of mobilization and engagement must be in place Not multi-initiatives competing with each other in air time, players and money.