STEP 8: Make It Stick
Anchoring new approaches in the culture for sustained change
New practices must grow deep roots in order to remain firmly planted in the culture. Culture is composed of norms of behavior and shared values. These social forces are incredibly strong. Every individual that joins an organization is indoctrinated into its culture, generally without even realizing it. Its inertia is maintained by the collective group of employees over years and years. Changes – whether consistent or inconsistent with the old culture – are difficult to ingrain.
This is why cultural change comes in Step 8, not Step 1. Some general rules about cultural change include:
- Cultural change comes last, not first
- You must be able to prove that the new way is superior to the old
- The success must be visible and well communicated
- You will lose some people in the process
- You must reinforce new norms and values with incentives and rewards – including promotions
- Reinforce the culture with every new employee
Tradition is a powerful force. We keep change in place by creating a new, supportive and sufficiently strong organizational culture. A Guiding Coalition alone cannot root change in place no matter how strong they are. It takes the majority of the organization truly embracing the new culture for there to be any chance of success in the long term.
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