a challenged change




Culture and values challenged

This case is about defining, validating and implementing a new set of values. And how the management team challenged the board's proposal.

Usually, the core or 'DNA' of an organization is defined by its purpose, the set of values & behaviors and any other guiding principles. Here we're talking about an organization without defined values: a new organization that jump-started into business. Of course there are values in such a situation, but they are not clearly articulated. Let alone that anyone has an idea what they might mean and what behaviors come with 'm.

We start the case at the moment the board finalized their dialogues with me about mission, vision, strategies, key issues to be tackled and so on. It was clear that all employees needed to be involved in having their say and asking their questions around the first concepts of a couple of values. But it was clear as well that it was a great opportunity to get the management team prepared for sharing their feedback first and ask all the questions they wanted to ask.

The board agreed to the proposal to have a fourth of the management team being trained in critical thinking skills in order to be prepared well enough to ask the questions they wanted to ask, and not to be satisfied with any political or unclear answer. On the other side, this was an opportunity for the board as well to get more clarity regarding what they've come up with, to add personal notes to what drove them to start this change and what their dreams were around the organization's way forward. Of course we knew that having a set of values is one; keeping them alive and living them is something else. It needs a walk-the-talk mentality, has a lot of consequences for HR, L&D, MD, internal academies, local leadership and so on. That for a later moment, this is about the values.

After training the volunteered group of the MT, the session with the board went as we all hoped for. There was a lot of understanding, good questions were asked and the volunteers kicked off by discussing the first prototypes of values, which were fine-tuned by them in close cooperation with the board. This finetuned set of values was discussed in each and every business unit, facilitated by the volunteers (buddy system). Results (feedback, suggestions, communication-tips, and so on) of the meetings were talked through by them with the board. Finally, the final set of values was communicated back to the units.

August: critical thinking

A group of 7 management team volunteers was trained in critical thinking and asking questions. Then they also reflected on the first set of concept values.

August - 7 management team volunteers and board

Presentation by the board re mission, vision, values. Personal stories. Dialogue and critical feedback, questions, answers and fine-tuning the concept values.

September - all management team, board

Presentation by the board re mission, vision, values. Full management-team involved. Personal stories. Dialogue and critical feedback, questions, answers and other fine-tuning of the first concept values in three groups, presentations and Q&A. Concept-values ready for feedback business units.

October - business units

Presentation for the business units by the 7 management team volunteers (in teams of two) regarding the why and what around the concept-values. Explaining things, answering questions, gathering feedback and tips.

November - two representatives and board

The outcomes, feedback, tips of the business unit meetings were presented to the board by two representatives of the 7 management-team volunteers. Action points were listed, values were finalized and communicated to management team for final communication within their business units.

November - two representatives and board

Final values communicated within the business units.

December - meeting with HR

How to keep the values alive, how can we link values to the hiring process, learning & development, development dialogues, appraisals, the corporate academy, communication, website and so on. A practical facilitation.