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Culture and mindset change




Driving to the work, day by day I fell into the routine. One day I run over the speed bump, which was installed recently obviously, but I didn't notice it. It shouldn't be there.

Next few days I observed it, slow down, due to remembering the pain from the last bump.

Somebody alarm me with the loud horn out of the blue. I was angry in first at that person but then noticed new road marks in front of me. Yellow track for buses only was there and I was driving in the middle of it. I clearly had a problem. Why city traffic planners decided to make my drive to the job more painful, as it wasn't enough already. Obviously there was some wicked underlying, but their intention was clear enough. I didn't like those changes. Rationally, maybe they had some good intention, but I can only see that it is affecting me in a negative way.

The same process is often experienced in the job place. The new rule is introduced by night and it states that what you did a few days ago is now prohibited, that you will need a longer period for vacation approval, more papers to sign, reports to file and more meetings to attend to.

So, is the company management changing my mindset with those rules? Same as the traffic signs changed it. My answer is probably NO, but they can strongly influence me. How they will force me to subdue and accept that change? By force and pain. Well, in traffic omnipresent cameras will capture my transgressions and mail me the costly ticket, and in the company probably I would be not able to do my job as I previously used and would receive negative feedback very soon from the manager.

Mindset is a collection of thoughts and beliefs. And thought habits affect how you think, what you feel, and what you do. A mindset can be seen as arising out of a person's world view or philosophy of life. There are two broad types of mindset - growth and fixed. Obviously, with a growth you are open to new things and more inclined to learn and develop - which I drastically failed to do in traffic initially.

Can culture change without mindset change? Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of some sort of society. Humans are famous, that, you can let a few of them in a room, and very soon they will produce something of their indigenous culture. Meaning, culture can change very easily even without mindset change. I can be easily fixed minded, stubborn, call me whatever, and when you put me in a new group with same fixed minded persons, not for a long, I will influence them, they will interact with me, and we will have our own small piece of the cultural bubble.

But why then most change management projects start with the words - YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. In order to incorporate openness, honesty, transparency and inspection - famous nowadays corporate mantras in Agile transformations, should I change my beliefs? Honestly, I still believe - NO, if it is only because of a project goal, and really, what those people who are leading the change are saying? somebody will ask - are we not open and honest by default? Culture needs to be nurtured, carefully considered in companies, and to consist of very few most important guidelines, which are so easily understandable, possible to follow by all employees and enforced with everyday behaviour. All employees are persons with their morality, understanding of what is good and bad, and have a ratio, so they do not need to be treated as fat witted. Where most of those changes fail in the start is to clearly show to all, what are the sacrifices and what will be the benefits of the process. You can believe that it is badly done change management if it is not shown in this way, but sometimes, there are no benefits for some employees at all, so let's hide this with few buzzwords.

And in the end, I will change because I want to and when I see what good it can do for me and for the whole group of people I am working with. I should care about them. If I do not care about my colleagues, that means that culture is so toxic that building upon it is worse than starting all from scratch. Disband the team, shuffle the employees to new sections, create a new culture from blank.

Every system - like some Agile team in SW development will have prerequisites for progress if it is bringing benefit for the specific person in a team and for the whole system - meaning the team - too. It can be the same for a company, country or whatever you like.

How you should start:

  • Lead the change by example;

  • Empower trusted professionals to help you with this;

  • Care about your colleagues and for the system, you are working within;

  • Be clear where you are now, where you want to be in future and how big gap you need to cross;

  • Start the journey.

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