by Trevor Lee

So you want to change your culture? It won’t happen by accident. When it comes to culture, the old quote, “Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results” is true. Changing culture is as much an art as a science, so there’s not a three-step process to culture change. But there are some elements that are essential if you want to see it happen. Here are five important ones to get you started.

Know your current culture.

If you want to make changes to your culture it means you already have a sense of it, but if you’re going to change it a sense isn’t good enough. You need to understand not only what your culture is, but why it is that way. What are the organizational rhythms, processes, habits, and attitudes that perpetuate the current culture? How does leadership reinforce the current culture–both actively and passively? How have people learned to function in the current culture and what will their pain points be if things change?

We love family vacations, and we’ve learned the hard way how they work best for our family. One of our first vacations was planned out almost minute by minute. We knew exactly what we were doing and when we were doing it. As the trip went along we had some unexpected issues arise, but because we had spent some much time planning we didn’t want to deviate from the plan. In the end that approach made us frustrated and irritable. We placed the plan over the purpose of enjoying a vacation together.

On a recent vacation we did pretty much the opposite. We went to a beach resort with no plan whatsoever, thinking it would be nice to just relax. By the end of the first day everyone was a little bored and we found ourselves being on edge with each other. We had no plan and we missed out on some great opportunities to make memories together as a family.

Having no plan was a bad idea. Being so tied to the plan that we wouldn’t adjust was a bad idea too. It’s the same in business. Planning is essential, but so is the ability to pivot when necessary. You need to consistently plan, assess, and pivot.