Let’s say your business is a car and the driver is your employees. If you want to change something about the performance of the car, such as improve gas mileage, what is your best strategy?
You can tell the driver that gas mileage is important. You can train the driver on ways to reduce gas mileage while driving. You can ask the driver to take more efficient routes. All of these tactics can make a minor impact on mileage, but probably not a major one. Furthermore, if you stop reminding the driver, the gas mileage is likely to regress.
Unfortunately, this is the approach is all too common for businesses trying to improve their culture. They talk about culture. They train on culture. These efforts create short term improvements, but when the focus shifts elsewhere, the culture returns to what it was before.
Let’s go back to the car. Is there a better approach to improving the performance of the car? Yes!
Change the car.
You can redesign the car to create a lower wind profile. You can upgrade the engine. You can even install an electric engine. These changes will improve the performance of the car regardless of who is driving and the changes will stick.
This is a much better approach to improving the culture of a business. Instead of spending your time talking about culture, change things inside the organization that supports the culture you want.
I recently heard an employee lament about the lack of collaboration in his company. He said this was caused by the fact that the employees tend to work on their own and don’t spend time together. So if collaboration suffers in his company because the employees don’t get to spend time together, why not rethink the company and design it where employees DO spend some time together. Even if this isn’t in person, utilizing technology solutions like Slack might be an opportunity.
An accounting firm laments that they can’t work on their culture during tax season because they have to work 70 hours per week. The solution is to redesign the business so that accountants don’t have to work 70 hours per week by bringing in part-time help during tax season, or by catering to more customers who have year round tax needs.
If you want to improve performance of your business, consider a redesign.