Gartner Blog Network

Unique Cultures and Organizational Change

by Elise Olding  |  August 29, 2011  |  2 Comments

An enterprise’s culture is often a source of pride and differentiation. It can also be a hurdle when implementing business process improvement projects.  In my travels and visits with clients all over the world, a common theme is emerging – “we are a unique organization and have a very distinct culture – organizational change practices from other organizational don’t apply to us.” The specifics include statements like:

  • “We are a government organization with long-time employees.”
  • “We are a privately owned company with creativity at our core.”
  • “We are a medium-sized business with US-only employees and growing rapidly.”
  • “We are a large global manufacturing firm that outsources all our back office functions and fosters innovation locally.”
  • “We are a non-profit organization operating in 33 countries with a passion for helping others.”

What follows is an explanation of why practices from other organizations are not of interest and won’t work in this instance. This approach is risky, as generally organizations aren’t very good at organizational change and communication to begin with. Let’s look at this from another angle. Imagine if the medical profession held these same beliefs. A visit to a doctor could go something like this:

      Patient: “I am having problems with my left knee. When I run I feel a pain on the outside. Is there something that I can do to stop the pain?”    

      Doctor:  “Well you do realize that you are a 38 year-old female, who runs, is a project manager and lives in Boulder, Colorado at a high altitude. In addition, no two human bodies are put together exactly the same, which makes it hard for me to use examples of others with knee pain to diagnose what is wrong with your knee.”

This would be the last time you visit this doctor! Many organizations hold onto the belief that they are unique, missing the opportunities to learn from leading practices of others.  It is important to understand the nuances of each culture and use these to guide the development of the organizational change plan that leverages a litany of great techniques and pitfalls from other enterprises. Successful organization change requires both. I believe in using frameworks that are culturally sensitive while leveraging leading practices in successful organizational change. Don’t handicap your change efforts from the start – understand the body of available techniques and leverage those that will resonate with your culture.

Getting over the fact your organization is unique and can’t learn from others is likely your first organizational change challenge!

Category: bpm-strategic-planning  gartner  organizational-change  

Tags: change-management  corporate-culture  organizational-change-management  

Elise Olding
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a Research Director covering the complex challenges of organizational change and business transformation from a people perspective. Her areas of focus include organizational change, communications strategies and emerging trends in employee engagement from a hands-on practitioner view. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on best practices to achieve sustainable change and business transformation. She is a member of Gartner's Business Process and Transformation team. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Unique Cultures and Organizational Change

  1. […] culture – organizational change practices from other organizational don’t apply to […] Alltop RSS var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true}; Posted in Customer Service […]

  2. […] Elise Olding is a research director in Gartner's Business Process Management (BPM) group. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on BPM implementation practices. Read Full Bio Coverage Areas: ← Unique Cultures and Organizational Change […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.