Reinvent Your Organizational Culture. Here's How.
The hardest thing to do is start. Writing a book, exercising, dieting… reinventing your work culture. But deep down you know it’s the right thing to do. There’s an internal nagging that won’t go away. An encouragement from your voice of reason. And every business reaches a crossroad that’ll shape its future.
Profit vs. people. Traditional vs. progressive. A culture of trust vs. a culture of rules.
It’s easy to take the well-travelled route, where people are resources, profits are king, and rules litter the path. It’s been a popular direction for dozens, if not hundreds of years.
It’s harder to venture into the unknown. A path not worn down by decades of trampling corporate shoes. But we know this path can lead us to Eden too. Businesses across the world have shown this.
And what’s more, we know, deep down – it’s the right route to take.
The journey could begin with a bang, a revelation, a euphoric moment. Or it could equally be the result of a long, hard slog through decaying business nonsense that’s no longer fit for the present day.
For Reddico, it was a combination of the two.
As a company still in start-up mode, we knew things weren’t perfect. Nothing ever is. But it wasn’t until team feedback highlighted the gaps between perception and reality, that action started to take place.
This was our crossroad.
Do we follow the path of micromanagement, bureaucracy, rules, cliques, confusion and frustration – or take a bold new approach towards trust, freedom and responsibility?
We chose the latter. And this is how you can, too.
1. Speak to the team
Where better to start than with the people you’re trying to make work better for? Ask questions such as:
- What are the frustrations or pain points?
- How could this initiative work?
- What would make work better or happier for you?
These are the people who will know what is and isn’t working, can provide valued inspiration, and make sure your bold plans actually get off the ground. You want that wider team buy-in and understanding of where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.
Keep everyone in the loop throughout the process, talk about challenges, and create a process that’s inclusive.
2. Read, read, read
You’re not expected to know everything, and that’s okay. You’ll learn a lot on the journey, and be inspired by some amazing people, companies, and cultures.
Create a reading list that’ll get your brain ticking – good places to start include: Brave New Work, No Rules Rules, The Fearless Organisation, The Culture Code, The Happy Manifesto, Moose Heads on the Table (and of course, Make Work More Fun) – all of which will get you thinking about alternative and progressive ways of working.
Reinventing Organisations is the bible of many progressive organisations, but can be a tough read if you’re just starting out.
3. Reach out to leaders
When you start taking culture seriously, you’ll find an underground world of inspiration – thought leaders, advocates, people experimenting with radical ideas.
And it’s a really generous community, more than willing to spend time talking about their experiences, helping you to overcome problems, and offering a fresh perspective.
So, reach out to them. You never know, it could provide the injection of creativity you need.
4. Learn from bucket list companies
Another obvious, yet valuable place to find inspiration and learn about a world of progressive work, is to check out the Corporate Rebels Bucket List.
A one-stop shop for some of the most inspiring and radical thinkers and businesses.
5. Know everything might NOT work
You can speak to thought leaders in the progressive work space, learn about incredible initiatives and bold projects that put people first – and the amazing results that come from them. But it might not be right for your business. For instance, a work anywhere, anytime policy is unsustainable in a hospital.
The solution isn’t to try to squeeze these systems into your business, but critically review and understand what will and won’t work. Ask the questions, speak to your team – and focus on the projects that will bring positive change.
6. Compile your own manifesto
This will be your own bible.
What should your future company look like? What’s the goal? Where will you be? How will it all come together?
You won’t have all the answers right away, and you don’t need to – just start compiling a list and fleshing out what a better version of your business could be.
Share this with your team. Shout about it. Get feedback. Create accountability. Everything is out of your head and written in black and white. Here’s a link to our original manifesto, written in 2017 and detailing our bold vision for Reddico.
Over time this has changed a lot. Some of it worked. Some didn’t. Our values have completely changed. But having this manifesto points you in the right direction – it’s your north star.
7. Create a position for cultural change
Business gets in the way.
What starts with a bold, adventurous plan, soon gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Your vision deteriorates, you roll out a couple of changes, and everything you were once energised and inspired by is lost in the mayhem.
That’s why, for cultural change to be a real success, you need a dedicated role. Someone to plan and roll out your masterpiece. Someone to build on your ideas and see them put into practice.
Whether you choose to promote from within or hire externally, this is vital to how successful you’ll be.
8. Review, amend, enhance, and progress
There are going to be amazing aha! moments. There are going to be times of frustration and dejection. There will be parts that move seamlessly, and others you can’t quite crack. Every journey is unique, so understand that yours will be very different from all those inspiring stories.
But don’t stop.
Don’t roll out change and settle for what you’ve landed on. Allow time to breathe, to test, to know what does and doesn’t work. And then keep revisiting it.
Review your processes, speak to your teams, change things for the better, tweak elements that haven’t sat well. This isn’t a linear journey. There isn’t a start and end point. It’s continued progression that’ll constantly make your business better forever.
Culture is a big word at the moment. Almost everyone seems to be talking about it – and even more say they have the answer to your problems. From Brewdog to Basecamp, culture has hit the news for all the wrong reasons over the last few months. When it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
Treat culture as your company’s foundations. Without it, everything else – the doors, windows, walls and roof, may look nice – but one day will come crumbling down.
Plan, prioritise, act. Start today and build a better business that’s fit for tomorrow.
This is a guest post from Luke Kyte, Head of Culture at Reddico a company that puts trust and freedom at the heart of everything they do. For more information on Luke and the company, check out his rebel page.