Last week, I traveled to San Francisco and Berkeley, California to join the exclusive professional classes of Innovation Orbit for the latest on leadership, innovation techniques, and how to change corporate culture. Innovation Orbit is a global executive training program focusing on innovation strategies, culture and tools used by leading corporates, public entities and startups. The classes rotate between Vienna, Austria, Shanghai, China and San Francisco, California. Next year, Nairobi, Kenya will be added.
Like leading MBA programs, the secret sauce in this program are the hand-picked, multi-cultural leading professionals with diverse backgrounds. The discussions and presentations covered the challenging topic about changing a ‘non-innovative’ corporate culture from the ground up. The speakers reminded us of one very famous quote by Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This means that defining the right KPIs and training your managers is not enough. Organizational leaders need to create a mindset and environment for change and motivates all stakeholders.
As important is identifying those who will never change. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. After last week, I am happy to share with you some simple “rules & tools” to make this happen.
If you are willing to change as a manager you have a chance to change your corporate system. Like a human body you will naturally face anti-bodies within your organizational system which are simply not ready to adopt change right from the beginning (expect this group to be something like 20% of our colleagues) and a large group of around 60% who will see what’s coming up “new” – being indifferent – and the rest will be ready to adopt and drive change with you. Follow this last group and forget about those, who are not willing to see the future of a better, more creative and inspiring working environment.
One of the most important drivers of corporate culture is the commitment and drive of all managers, across hierarchies, within your organization. Peter Drucker once said “Culture eats strategy for Breakfast” and this the Damocles Sword everybody in Silicon Valley will remind you over and over again. You need to reduce the negative factor of managing people from distance by involving them directly. Managers need to see the future and be the natural creators of change that happens within your organization. Experienced Managers suggested the concept of GEMBA walks in order to make managers start to understand an organization from the ground up again, instead of falling into the so-called “Melon Trap”.
If you are willing to change – don’t wait. It is never the right moment and it will never be better. Your personal work-life-balance is bullshit, if you realize and be honest with you that work will always eat up a little more of your time than family because this is what you live off – BUT you can make a difference concentrating on tasks and projects which give you energy instead of fighting against windmills that eventually drive you into burnout.
I believe everything you do only make sense if you measure your performance. This is the most simple tool you may use for reflection and you need to take into account that measurement always come with a human misbehavior or misperception (not important if this happens on purpose due to biased reporting – or not). 4 KPIs should help you to consciously drive change in your system and make a true difference.
Whatever you do needs to be driven and created by the management itself, therefore you need to make sure they are the right role models and that they live values rather than only talking about a mission. Train your managers constantly in 5 different fields and make them true leaders and drivers of your next level leadership team.
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