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Managing Change

It is not the strongest or most intelligent who survive but those who can best manage change. ~Charles Darwin

Mushroom are wonderful organisms. As the fruit of an unseen network of mycelium, its spore spread out into the world, eating the forgotten and rotten, composting the nutrients and creating new, fertile ground. From these wonderful organisms, we draw our corollary for culture change.

Culture change is difficult. Sometimes it is ugly, sometimes it is alluringly, but dangerously, beautiful; always it brings new life to broken and discarded systems.

It has been my privilege to participate in cultural changes in companies throughout my career, some even award winning. Sometimes, we were stunningly successful, and sometimes we worked hard to move the boulder up the hill of resistance. What seems to work the best? This question was posed to me recently at a leadership conference.

Successful cultural change starts small, and critically includes lower and middle level managers who advocate for the change. These marketing mavens are able to quickly generate interest, energy, and dedication to the cause. They are empowered to work towards an improvement in their company.

Successful cultural change starts small, and critically includes lower and middle level managers who advocate for the change.

The creative process requires a dedication to success and failure. The advantage of starting small is the low cost of failure. Small projects die out quickly if they do not fit an exigent need. The quick cycle frees up teams to develop new ideas and dedicate resources to their success.

Successful projects quickly grow upward, until they gain the attention and support of the executive staff. Once supported, the cap grows outward and begins to cap down, where spores again drop, unseen, into the air and ground. With the support of the lower and middle managers, successful culture change can gain a solid footing through-out the organization, frequently with the lower tier to be the last to adopt. Following this process has been the most effective, least challenging culture change process that I have experienced in my career.

 

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