Culture can be the multiplier to either success or failure for organizations. As we’ve seen in my earlier article, a toxic culture might cause productivity to decrease by 40% while a positive culture might boost performance with at least 20% – but probably more (estimate based on research and my client work).

That makes the need apparent to consciously develop organizational culture. But how? Organizations become more and more reluctant to embark on large-scale change programs. Many are weary of traditional organizational change projects with their infamous failure rate, the high expectations, effort, cost and planning involved, that are too often followed by disappointment.

From BIG to Sustainable Change

New change approaches use the network-nature of organizations: engaging change agents to spread small actions that can help the organization change. This is no high-profile, high-cost, high-risk endeavor, and can be done even though people are busy. It doesn’t take so much time, planning, money, while it avoids the demotivation of yet another disappointing change effort. Small actions are also easy to adjust, agile, and offer a great way to engage the people who are open to change, whether they have leadership positions or not.

This is change as a social movement: just like we see movements in society or on social media. Things that start small could go viral. It takes a a number of instigators to start influencing the others in the organizational system. Both research and practice show that this way of change can work very well.

If you let go of the hierarchical view of organizations, you don’t always need to roll out Big Change from the top down. You could start small and include and influence people, and engage them in effective change: small change might be sustainable!

Online learning supports Culture onsite

E-learning can be a great support to your onsite culture change program and to your in-person workshops and focus groups. Though e-learning can also support change in case of a top-down culture initiative, it works especially well if you choose a network approach of culture change.

The change agents, be they enthusiastic employees or formal leaders of various levels, follow the online curriculum of the Positive Culture Academy. Each module explains more about culture and positive (self-)leadership, offers tools, and invites people to customize and apply them on the job.

This leads to real-time learning, supported by co-workers, and that’s what you need to change the culture. Instead of long sessions talking about culture, people are enticed to adopt positive behaviors and to do something about culture.

Culture sessions can be added, of course, but the e-learning with a focus on practical insights and behaviors will help to shift the daily “vibe” of your organization. It entices people to take ownership and action, and to change “the way we do things around here”. It’s great for engagement.

Real-time, collective Learning

Online learning allows people to review training materials as they navigate their daily work. Approximately 56 percent of modern learners prefer to apply newly learned techniques in real time. As research shows, when a student learns from, interacts with, and has an impact on the real world in real-time, higher retention occurs.

Culture shapes Interactions

Culture change requires collective learning. A critical mass of organization members must change how they think, what they value, and how they interact and act – or nothing will change in daily reality. Culture change does not happen on paper!

That’s where the online Culture Academy can help. Based on easy-to-do positive “interaction interventions”, leaders and team members alike learn how to develop the culture to be more positive and productive.

As e-learning is accessible anytime, any place, people can blend it into their work schedules and combine it with onsite, in-person culture sessions to develop a culture that will become the “new normal”. This is organization development: easy to start and easy to keep doing.

Check out the curriculum and see how you could blend this with your onsite change program or culture initiative.

© Marcella Bremer, 2019. All rights reserved.

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