Change Management: Create a Culture Seeking Continual Improvement or Use Band-Aids?

Successfully shepherding change within an organization is often a challenge. Often change management strategies are mainly about how to cope with a toxic culture but exclude the option of fixing the toxic culture. Why not address the root causes instead of trying band-aids?

The most effective strategy is to build an organizational culture into one that promotes continual improvement. A continual improvement culture is one that is constantly changing to improve (grounded in long term principles: respect for people, experiment, iterate quickly, etc.).

You can try to push change in an ad hoc basis by adopting some strategies to create a similar feeling about the individual change effort. But that isn’t as effective as establishing them in the culture are. Strategies such as: going the gemba, pdsa, build trust via respect for people…

These tools and concepts build trust within the organization. The do that by showing people are respected and that the change effort isn’t just another in the long line of wasted effort for ineffectual change. The first part can be addressed, normally the second part can’t be addressed effectively. Often that is at the core of the issue with why the change effort isn’t working. It is a bad solutions. It hasn’t been tested on a small scale. It hasn’t been iterated numerous times to take a seed of an idea and grow it into a proven and effective change that will be successful. If it had been, many people would be clamoring for the improvement (not everyone, true, but enough people).

But still you can use strategies to cope with lack of trust in your intentions with the change and lack of trust in the effectiveness and fear of change. Some of those are included in the links below. But mainly my strategy is based on focusing on building the proper culture for long term excellence and the change management strategies are just short term coping mechanisms to help deal with the initial challenges. Using those strategies as a long term solution for dealing with change in a toxic culture isn’t a very sensible way to manage.


Mao statue in Shanghai, China with financial district in the background

Mao statue in Shanghai, China with financial district in the background. See more of my photos from China.

I know why focusing on the root cause isn’t realistic in most cases: the organization isn’t willing to build a customer focused continual improvement culture built on a foundation of respect for people. It is true in such cases using band-aids makes sense: using them can make you more effective than not using band aids at all.

I have written about change management ideas and creating a culture focused on continual improvement in previous posts: Communicating Change (tie to long term vision)Far Too Often Change is not ImprovementBuild Your Circle of Influence to Grow Your Ability to Lead ChangePeople Take Time to Believe Claims of Changed Management PracticesBuilding An Organization Focused on Applying of Management Improvement IdeasCustomer Focus by EveryoneBuilding the critical thinking practices in the organization creates an environment that supports the principles and practices of management improvement

2 thoughts on “Change Management: Create a Culture Seeking Continual Improvement or Use Band-Aids?

  1. Pingback: 5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of December 27, 2015 - Leadership Speaker David Dye

  2. Pingback: Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods? | Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

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