Change Model – The Cultural Web (Part 2)

In our last blog post, we began taking about a powerful model and simple tool, the Cultural Web, you can use to institute change within your organization. As a refresher, the model looks like this:

Picture taken from “What is the Cultural Web?” Innovation for Growth blog

Picture taken from “What is the Cultural Web?” Innovation for Growth blog

Remember, in the front and center of this model is the paradigm. The paradigm is your organization culture, which is the result of the interplay of these six areas. The six areas are: stories, symbols, power structures, organizational structures, control systems, and rituals and routines.

Last time, we discussed stories, symbols, and power structures. Today, we will discuss the last three of these areas:

Organizational Structures

Everyone has some sort of a wire diagram or an org chart, but now we want to look at the question of “do we have the right organizational structure to get what we want?” Are we centralized? Are we decentralized? What works best for our situations? Then, once again, we have to look at the informal structures.

Does anyone remember the character of Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H? It was a comedy set during the Korean war, and O’Reilly was someone that people would go to and ask “Radar, can you get me XYZ?” and he would go out and he would talk to somebody, and he would trade with somebody, and all of a sudden he would get what was needed. How you get things done –trade, barter – unofficially? What is that informal structure in addition to the formal?

Control Systems

When you hear, “control systems,” you think of Finance, Quality Control, and those kinds of things, but they also include organizational incentives and regulations. What are you measuring? What are you encouraging?

You may have heard the phrase, “you get what you measure.” You have to be wary of what actions you are incentivizing or else you may not be getting the outcomes you want.

Rituals and Routines

Think about when a customer walks into your door: how is he or she handled? That’s a routine. How do you process a vacation request through your system? That’s a routine. Rituals may be seen in how you reward your salespeople. Is there a big party celebrating high performing salespeople at the end of the year? Do we all meet at the water cooler on Fridays? All those things are very wrapped up in how you carry on your daily business.

Putting it All Together

When you add up all these areas that we’ve discussed, you start to notice how they interact with each other. For example, stories affected both our symbols and rituals in my Navy Recruiting command story. Each month when a command made their mission goals, the ritual was to ring a bell. They always rang the bell for when the active duty recruiters made their mission, but doing so did not necessarily depend on the stats from the reserve mission, the other half of the command merger. The incoming command admiral changed that ritual. For forty months in a row, he said, “No, we haven’t made all our missions, so we aren’t ringing the bell.” By changing that ritual, it forced us to change our story and some of the control systems until we got the results we wanted, which was to make ALL of the missions.

As an exercise for yourself, take at least one of the six areas and think about how your organization currently handles them. You can then see, both from the examples above and your own exploration, how the Culture Web is a simple and powerful tool you can use to create positive cultural changes in your organization. If you are interested in more information about this tool and how to use it, contact me!

Leave a Reply

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