To be successful in managing change, the CEO, with the board of directors’ support, must formally announce the strategy for excellence to all levels and why culture change will be critical to the company’s ability to sustain long-term.
If the top leaders don’t believe that and/or aren’t prepared to relentlessly lead that way for the rest of their careers, then they shouldn’t deceive their employees by pretending to believe. It’s a travesty how many U.S. companies have started a journey of continuous improvement and only 2%-3% of those are still on the journey after 10 years.
No wonder so many workforces are cynical when the next bold leader comes along and says, “Let’s do lean.” (Hourly worker: “Oh great. Here we go again with another flavor of the month. I can probably outlast this phony just like I did the last two.”)
One of the leading reasons these kinds of initiatives fail is that senior leaders announce change and then don’t change anything about themselves and how they think and how they lead.
All leaders are in a fish-bowl with everyone in the organization looking up at them. If employees see definite behavior changes, e.g. no more “death by 1,000 initiatives”; no more “do as I say not as I do”; and more accountability for the new agenda, i.e. malcontents start disappearing; persistence to eliminate root cause instead of apply band aids to the business’ problems, the priority for excellence never changes, etc. then the company has a chance to really change and get a lot better.
More on implementing culture change on IndustryWeek.