So if you have a ‘culture change programme’ that is based on adding more and more people going through a series of workshops, you have the maths wrong. Cultures are not created by training.
If you have 5000 people in the organization and you are training 500, you have 4500 to go. Of course I am in caricature here. You are going to tell me that that, for example, those 500 are leaders and that, by training them, they will then manage/lead/change the other 4500. Or that this is a ‘train the trainer programme’ that will ‘cascade down’. I get that. Yet, it is still addition of some perhaps greater magnitude. This arithmetic-view-of-the-world is at the core of what I call World I, the world in which communication is the currency, a currency which goes down the organizational chart pipes filling in all those receptacles, some open, some not, called minds.
In what I call World II, however, the currency is behaviours: what people do, exhibit, is visible, rewarded or not. In behavioural terms, the math here is multiplication. One individual infects five (pick a number) each of whom infects another five, etc. Behavioural spread follows an infection model. Good or bad. Conscious or unconscious. Behavioural spread is morally blind. It is up to us to shape it in one moral or another.
Our environments are shaped by multiplication of behaviours, not by numbers of people indoctrinated. 500 well trained, enlightened, educated, rationally convinced and emotionally touched, who do not behave in a particular (culture desired) way is a group of 500 perhaps lucky guys. But if you want culture shaping, you need to each of them (or most of them) to influence others at a scale.
Scale, multiplication, behavioural infection, are the keywords for culture. This is where many ‘cultural initiatives’ fail: they are not behavioural based and there is no multiplication, despite a well crafted rational cascade of educational workshops.
Very often, clients come to my team with this assessment: we have ‘done’ reorganizational change, a leadership programme for level 1 and 2, a six months leadership roadshow, and other good initiatives, but ‘nothing seems to have changed much’. The sad part is that the quality of what has been done is often good. But there is the wrong math. Effects, if any, are small, circumscribed to ‘participants’ and appearing to have reached a frustrating plateau. It is like trying to win an election by banking on party members as the only ones who will vote.
More maths to come.