Human Latency Part 2

Before rushing to embrace any business process change, managers must ask hard questions about their organization’s culture and commitment to training.



Culture can torpedo a great vision, or process improvement.  A culture that does not value training, may fail to gain maximum benefits. In this post on the subject, I’ll talk about ways to help individuals connect with and embrace changes to business process.

There are lots of definitions about culture. I like the idea that it’s what people do when the boss isn’t looking. Tom Stevens of Think Leadership Ideas articulates it as  “the behavior and atmosphere that exist by default unless there is disciplined intent and action to do otherwise.” Culture is a set of actions that express our commitment to protect what we value.  Over time people become really committed to doing things a certain way, either because it protects what they value or has been co-opted to do so.

I like the latter definition, because I have political bent and also because it helps to focus on impediments to great ideas. Someone said that great ideas, new ideas don’t come into acceptance because the proponents of the idea are able to convince people to adopt them. Instead, new ideas take root because the people who are committed to the old way of doing things die. Ouch!

Consultants will promise you the world. They may even stress efficiency gain and bottom line improvements. I worked with one organization that implemented a new software system in order to get a pick up on efficiency. It never materialized. It meant a serious cultural shift and commitment to training that the organization couldn’t muster.

In light of any business process change, an organization needs to answer yes to all of the following culture questions:

  1. Are expectations concerning the process clearly articulated and understood by employees?
  2. Are words, behavior and emotional tone of leadership congruent with epectations?
  3. Does the organization regularly communicate how a person’s work contributes to success of the new business process?
  4. Is the organization sensitive to matching individual strengths and desires in light of the new business process?
  5. Does the organization frequently let people know when they’re doing a good job?
  6. Does the organization provide regular opportunities for learning and growth?
  7. Does the organization’s leadership routinely listen to ideas of their employees?

A culture that values training can greatly affect the successful implementation of business process change. I have witnessed many organizations that give lip service to the obvious need for training. But when push comes to shove, training becomes secondary to getting product out the door.

Here are some ideas to improve the effectiveness of a training program:

  1. The program does not have to be complex, but it should reflect the real events as much as possible;
  2. The program should be tailored for each job function with an emphasis on the key task or issues
  3. There should be an expert on call who can help individuals work through issues