Cultural Changes of a Program/Business

19 Nov

Written by Kevin  Sutton – Assistant Coach at George Washington University

Often times, a new leader – weather a Coach, President, or CEO – will enter an organization and quickly state that it’s essential they “change the culture”.

What does does “change the culture” really mean?  We  need to define” culture”.  According to Wekipidia, “culture”  is the beliefs, values,  behaviors and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life.  Culture can also mean the arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.

Before any cultural changes can or should occur, I feel that is important for the leader to clearly articulate – in their Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Value Statement – what the  standards are for their program/company.  Then, the leader must  live them out through their actions  on a daily basis.

Cultural changes reflect the personality of the person making them.  Observers and followers of the team/business will be able to glean from the Cultural changes what is important to the coach/leader/CEO.

Cultural changes are often needed when there’s a failure to “believe in/buy in”.   I am of the opinion that before you can have a “buy in”mentality, you must have a  “believe in” mentality first.  The individual must believe in the new direction, philosophy or product then they will endorse and embrace it.   However if the individual does not “believe in/buy in”, they need to get “BOUGHT OUT”.

Cultural changes often requires the leader to work with the “1/3 Rule”.  The  “1/3 Rule” states that the organization, from the beginning, will be divided into thirds;  1/3 of the people will be in support the leader,  1/3 of the people will not be in support of the leader for varies reasons (often these reasons are personal based on resistance to change), and  1/3 of the people will be on the fence (neither supportive nor unsupportive).  The fence-sitters are hopeful that the leader can truly do what they have been hired to do.   This group is the most important group  for the  leader to win over,  as doing so means it has gained  2/3’s majority  of the support.

Defining moments are very  important when the cultural changes are being made.  These are those moments when the leader  must act and show that they are, indeed, in charge.   It is in these moments that their decisions and actions  are  being observed and judged by all persons whom have an interest.  Defining moments can be positive, even filled  with  compassion in light of tragedy. They can also be  negative, such as  when a violation of the standards occur. In either case, the leader must show their leadership ability and therefore define themselves to their constituents.

Cultural  changes  do not have to always be dramatic to be effective, as they can be subtle as well. They must be rooted in intelligent thought, and not based on emotion. The overall objectives of the Cultural changes have to be:

(1). What is in the best interest of the team/company? and

(2) will this change make the team/company better?

I truly feel that change is necessary when a new leader comes on board.  How that change is implemented will contribute to the  ultimate success of the organization.  Change is not to be feared, but to be embraced when it is implemented intelligently and fairly. Sometimes, these cultural changes can bring about a “freshness” and a new found enthusiasm for an already established team/company.


One Response to “Cultural Changes of a Program/Business”


  1. Basketball Coaching Digest November 22, 2012 | Justin T. EganJustin T. Egan - November 22, 2012

    […] Cultural Changes of a Program/Business […]

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