Naveen Kondamudi
June 28, 2023

INSIGHTS ARTICLE: Agile Organizational Change Management for Cultural Transformation

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Agile Organizational Change Management for Cultural Transformation 


Peter Drucker’s famous quote that says "culture eats strategy for breakfast" is based on an experiential foundation. Any organization’s culture is not a dormant entity it has evolved over time, continues to evolve, and will evolve in the future. There is no modus operandi for a culture. Even more uncertain is how it may react to change. There may be principles but no clear rules on how a change initiative would get received. So, for a change leader, it is a moving and transforming target. The nature of culture is such that it can seamlessly embrace changes, provided it allows the change. For example, the Pandemic brought in the work-from-home culture. This has affected the workforce in ways and means like never before. It has now changed the working culture forever. the peer-to-peer culturing influence had been very minimal which resulted in a heterogenous culture, resulting in a more unpredictable workforce. Some believe it has resulted in the dilution of their corporate culture
but it is just the next stage of cultural evolution. Culture impacts how a change is received, executed, and sustained. Change fatigue is also heavily influenced by the culture of the organization.
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No wonder only 30% of the changes are success rate. This is primarily due to the resistance from the organization. Many thought leaders point to these key factors which influence resistance. Nature of change, Consequence of Change, Organizational History, Type of Individual, and Individual History. Most of these are greatly influenced by the culture of the organization either directly or indirectly. Culture decides the length and fluctuations of the Kubler-Ross Change Curve for the individuals in the organization.
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Rules of engagement for cultural transformation need to be agile. An agile organization's change management (OCM) is a culture by itself, only a culture can embrace another culture. So, when dealing with changes in organizations that have a strong cultural set up some of the below aspects to be considered. Any organizational change initiatives should not be executed in a separate track. The change management team and the actions should be well integrated and influenced by the overall program plan. In fact, it may be better if integrated at the portfolio level. Culture is like a living organism. Its characteristics change with the changes imposed on it. So, a clear understanding of all changes that are currently in the play space will be essential before a new change is introduced. In other words, agile OCM should consider all the changes for a given time box when making action plans so, the OCM plan should be more of an organization change-shower management plan. Have the flexibility to use and experiment with multiple change adoption models. Focus on people and process alignment. Scenario Planning is key to planning for mitigation and contingency measures. In all these aspects, it is very essential to have an external point of view, to avoid cultural bias. Identify, internal change agents who have a good understanding of the existing culture and are willing to be change evangelists. In cultures where leaders are respected, able leadership can overcome all these odds and unify everybody for a common goal. Any plan we make unless it has the ability to seamlessly integrate with the existing organization culture it might be exceedingly difficult to adapt, so take small steps, monitor, and recalibrate action. There should be very minimal efforts to deculturize but focus more to acculturate.
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