Organizations don’t change unless people do. It may sound simplistic, but changing a corporate culture requires an “ah ha” moment! The same, compelling, memorable realization that causes us to finally keep that New Year resolution. Organizations change when the desired change resonates with every employee in a deep and personal way.
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My first job out of college was with a state government agency. I cannot tell you how many times I heard my coworkers utter the refrain, “I’ll be here beyond the Governor” when responding to just about anything new that the Governor-appointed Commissioner instituted. They knew with absolute certainty that politicians and their appointees come and go – certainly by no later than the end of their second term in office.
With 40% of newly appointed CEOs lasting two years and the average CEO tenure of about 7 years, it’s not surprising that this sentiment is no longer reserved for government workers.
- Despite improving the numbers over the course of his six year run, Bob Nardelli – a disciple of leader-builder Jack Welch, after all – never did win over Home Depot’s employees, customers or shareholders.
- Carly Fiorina made it three years at Hewlett-Packard, where the HP Garage is still a symbol of what can rise from humble beginnings with hard work and determination. You think someone from New Jersey can mess with this icon of Silicon Valley?
- Remember Jim Donald, replaced after three years as CEO of Starbucks by the Chairman of the Board and former chief executive Howard Schultz? Turns out the customer experience really is what it’s all about.
We can’t underestimate the strength of an existing culture and its tenacity in maintaining the status quo. These battle-worn executives have the scars to prove it.
We know this from our personal lives. For how many years now have you been making the same New Year resolutions? But every now and then something very extraordinary happens: we have a transforming experience that enables us to make the long-desired-but-not-achieved change in a minute.
Why? It’s not the knowing that motivates us to change. We all know we should adopt a lifestyle that includes healthful eating, shed some of those pounds, stop smoking and spend more quality time with our spouse and kids. What it takes is more visceral than intellectual: the “ah ha” moment.
It’s that moment when you come to a sudden realization that what you’ve got to do differently is so obvious, so simple, that all resistance just melts away. Borrowing from Tuned In language: it resonates. You just know you’ve got to do it and you’re committed to making the investment of time, energy or will power to make it happen, even if you’re not quite certain how you’ll go about it.
The same can be true for organizations. As authors Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott observe in Tuned In
- The single dominant focus that drives a company’s approach to business is its culture… [the] “company personality” that determines how an organization structures itself and behaves in the market.
- Tuned In businesses [that is, those that adopt a market-driven culture as their dominant culture] perform better than companies driven by [cultures driven by] innovation, revenue growth or customer satisfaction – without sacrificing the benefits of these three alternative cultures.
The book gives some compelling examples that demonstrate the value of a Tuned In culture, some large and well known (like Starbucks, Avis, FedEx and Apple) and some not (like Phoenix realtor Russell Shaw or The Millionaires’ Magician Steve Cohen). In many of these examples, the culture emanated from the top: the Tuned In CEO drove it. The culture cascaded down the organization and permeated every nook and cranny of even the most far-flung field office.
But what do you do if your company isn’t as Tuned In as it might be?
Organizations don’t change unless people do. It may sound simplistic, but I believe that changing a corporate culture requires an “ah hah” moment, the same, compelling, memorable realization that causes us to finally keep that New Year resolution. Organizations change when the desired change resonates with every employee in a deep and personal way.
So, it may be funny but not surprising, that one of the ingredients for transforming a corporate culture into a Tuned In culture is found in the Six Steps of the Tuned In Process.
But most of us are not CEOs; we’re just trying to impact our corner of the world.
How do you get to that “ah ha” moment? It helps to understand what may be getting in the way and what you can try to do to overcome these obstacles.
If you want your company’s leadership to adopt the Tuned In process, think in Tuned In terms:
|Tuned In Process||Consider This, if Not Tuned In|
|Find Unresolved Problems
How do we know what market and product to focus on?
|What business results, in terms of profitability and growth is leadership looking to achieve?
What obstacles or lost opportunities are preventing this from happening consistently?
|Understand Buyer Personas
How do we identify who will buy our offering?
|Why are we holding on to a culture that’s not getting us the profitability we want?|
|Quantify the Impact
How do we know if we have a potential winner?
|How would we know when we have a Tuned In culture?
What would be the different?
|Create Breakthrough Experiences
How do we build a competitive advantage?
|How would this change how we compete or how others see us?|
|Articulate Powerful Ideas
How do we establish memorable concepts that speak to the problems buyers have?
|What would people at every level need to do, say or think about differently?
What can we do to envision and experience what a Tuned In culture would be?
|Establish Authentic Connections
How do we tell our buyers that we’ve solved their problems so they buy from us?
|Am I following the Tuned In process myself within my own sphere of influence?|
Next time you have a concept, a new process or any other big idea you need to sell, take the time to pause and get Tuned In if you want to be successful:
- If it doesn’t resonate with your audience, find out why.
- If it’s not compelling and solving a worthwhile business need or a thorny problem facing real people in your organization, why are you “selling” it?
- If you haven’t established an authentic, human connection with the people you’re asking to buy your idea, how can you expect them to trust you?
- If you’re not enthusiastic about– or struggle to come up with a great story or visual way to describe – its value so others can see it immediately, why would anyone else want to invest time, energy or resources in it?
Adopting a Tuned In thought process will eventually turn into a Tuned In attitude and a Tuned In culture.