Effective Culture Transformation Implementation

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“Organizational culture is not just an aspect of the game; it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” — Lou Gerstner

Dear Business Partner,

In light of our ongoing efforts to embed a lean transformation within our organizational culture, I propose a focused strategy based on the principles of effective culture implementation. This strategy is anchored by three things -artefacts, behaviours, and core beliefs – ABCs – of successful culture implementation. Using the case of WezimbeBank, a small financial institution that successfully implemented these principles, we can draw valuable lessons for our transformation.

Wezimbe Bank, a small financial institution, faced challenges typical of the industry — operational inefficiency leading to high operational costs, worsening asset quality due to poor credit management, poor customer care and increasing dormant accounts – all attributed to a rigid culture resistant to change. Management had to do something. An independent business review recommends a culture transformation. The culture transformation project starts with Phase 1: the assessment of the current culture, phase 2: the identification of the desired culture, and then Phase 3: the documentation of a culture transformation roadmap; and Phase 4: The implementation of the desired culture, which is usually a long process lasting 3 to 6 years. In the next issue, we will explore the four phases in detail.

One of the building blocks of effective cultural transformation is clarity of the artefacts, behaviours and core

Artifacts, values and core beliefs

Create simple and clear artefacts that are visually compelling and easy to understand, and communicate company value. Implementation of visual management tools such as well-organized Andon lamps and team boards  — which could be used to display performance metrics. Display at your workplace common areas artefacts that align with the company values.  For example, if you want employees to think about speed when they are at work, get an image of the fastest animal on earth and display it. And explain what it means so that everyone can understand the message when they see it. If your value is integrity, find a person, picture or action that makes people remember ethics and integrity. And the

Thereafter,  conduct comprehensive training sessions to familiarize all staff with the new tools and techniques, ensuring that artefacts are not only physical but also well-understood and utilized.

Emphasize beliefs such as “good things happen when we manage by the fact” “support from management is crucial to frontline success,” or “Always ask why, and take action.” Encouraging open discussions about the effectiveness of processes and adherence to core beliefs is key to implementing a winning culture.

Behaviours

What are the behaviours you want to drive? Leaders must actively engage with the tools by regularly visiting the place of work, and demonstrating a commitment to high performance principles. Establish a responsive system to address issues as they arise, encouraging a proactive rather than reactive culture.

Nudges

These are subtle yet powerful tools used to guide employee behaviours in a desired direction without the use of direct instructions or mandates. Originating from behavioural economics, the concept of nudging involves making small changes to the environment or the way choices are presented to influence decision-making and behaviour predictably, while still allowing people to exercise their free will. As part of culture implementation, design the environment in which people make decisions to continuously nudge them to do the right thing.  Take the case of supermarkets, to encourage people to buy more drinks, they place them at eye level near the checkout. Everything must be done deliberately to “facilitate” the desired behaviour. In a corporate setting, this could translate to designing office spaces that encourage collaboration or placing recycle bins prominently to foster a culture of sustainability and zero littering.

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