Change Ready Culture: Imperative For Sustained Business Out Performance

The pandemic was a systemic shock to businesses and individuals alike, causing large scale disruption. However, it spawned a generation of new and evolved winner businesses who leveraged digital technologies (DT) to widen their economic moats and validated Darwinian theory of adaptation to change, again. The changes in business and operating model for these digital/phygital businesses has in a good part, pivoted on new ‘organization culture' and 'ways of working'. It is a tribute to visionary leadership teams of these businesses who built the culture long before such a need for change was felt or even imagined. Expectedly, innovation and transformation are the hallmarks of these pioneering businesses, built and continually honed on 'change ready culture' critical to respond to fast changing external and/or internal context. This article examines what might help build change ready cultures(CRCs) for sustained business outperformance.

Organization Culture
Culture or 'how things get done here' has been variously defined as the collective programming of the mind and exhibited behaviors or simply a set of beliefs on which people build their behaviors. These behaviors aggregated at the organization level create experiences for all the stakeholders including employees and customers. Everyday experiences of employees in organizations are influenced by words, vocabulary, narratives, debates, feedbacks, questions, decisions and importantly tone plus non verbal cues.

During pandemic, absence of conventional workplace and remote working took away with it the in person interactions with colleagues, customers, and partners. Went with it the informal chit chats, conversations deliberations, serendipitous exchanges in corridors and water cooler experiences. We realized the enormous power of non verbal cues, expressions, tone and body language that had disrupted communication and collaboration in new setting. It perceptibly and adversely impacted the strength of our workplace social connections feelings, thoughts and emotions, showing up as lower levels of energy and enthusiasm. It would be hard to refute the impact lack of physical meetings had on social connections and organization culture.

Employees and teams instinctively and collectively recognize the need to continually challenge the status quo with spirit of inquiry, learning, experimentation, and feedback exchange across stakeholder spectrum

Organizations that were able to navigate the pandemic challenges better executed their strategy with aplomb. They exhibited different behaviors such as continuous new ideas generation & ‘nextgen' thinking, growth & learning mindset, renewal of beliefs & attitudes about stakeholders and environment, bold decisions, actions and role modeling by team members. Understandably these, organizations have led by innovation transforming their product portfolio, reimagining processes, reskilling people and changing and reinforcing the culture all steered by an aligned strong leadership team, to deliver outstanding customer/stakeholder experiences.

Change Ready Culture(CRC)
The winning organizations described in above paragraph are marked by energy and excitement, giving employees a sense of pride in embracing changes. They are enthused by the change opportunity, wherein psychological safety, autonomy and fair play guarantees them wings to soar higher, meeting their personal and professional aspirations. CRCs have intense awareness, empathy and passion towards meeting unstated and unarticulated customer/stakeholder needs & desires and address them continually with human and tech interventions. Employees and teams instinctively and collectively recognize the need to continually challenge the status quo with spirit of inquiry, learning, experimentation, and feedback exchange across stakeholder spectrum.

Leadership behaviors play the crucial part of role modeling behaviors such as acceptance of individual vulnerabilities, tolerance for failure, surfacing conflicts constructively across teams and within teams, always prioritizing courage and authenticity. This builds trust and ethos for employees to effortlessly embrace the new and discard the old ways making adaptation to change seamless. It is reflected in thinking, intent, behaviors and actions through new set of norms rituals and metaphors with changes in extant policies and practices for innovation sustenance.