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  • Writer's picturePaul Pilling

There's always a bigger fish

Over my career to I have always championed that ethos that 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast'.

I have experienced how transformations and ways of working impacts the culture of a team, a department or the company as a whole. But its how they react to these changes that will determine the success of the change.

It is no surprise that stages of reactions to change and its impacts are easily tracked to the Kubler-Ross grief cycle. As all change is the death of the old or familiar way you worked or interacted with people.

The keys to successful change therefore is to equip yourself and your colleagues with the tools, techniques and behaviours to manage their journey through the curve.

I have run through these in a talk I did a few years ago call the The Agile Vitamin, which I will add to this site shortly.

My view on this is broadly that you can have the strategy in place but that if you don't have the correct culture where people feel engaged and understand the rationale for the changes then it will be hard to deliver. Hence the opening gambit, that culture eats strategy for breakfast. So what is the bigger fish I hear you ask? Surely culture is the biggest fish, well there is always a bigger fish. The bigger fish is this case is hierarchy, too many layers and power invested in a companies hierarchy, leads to situations where the pressure will crush the buds of cultural change, before they start to flower. Especially when that change is one around agile ways or working as the hierarchy removes the autonomy from those delivering the change.

I am not saying that hierarchy doesn't have it's place of course it does, otherwise it often ends in chaos. Just that the hierarchy must set the vision and devolve decision making to those close enough to understand.

When this works it is a win win situation as gives back time to those higher up the chain to focus on their roles whilst enabling the empowerment of those delivering the change.

Well these are my thoughts anyway based on how I have experienced change.

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