The first critical step on The Ladder of Change TM


One of the most challenging questions about corporate culture change programs often is 'Where do I start?' The answer tends to be different for each consultant or consultancy that claims to be a corporate culture change specialist.

At CDSM have our own answer - which not only indicates where to start, but also provides a process and behavioral guide when you start at any other stage of the change process.

In John Doerr's seminal book on high performance cultures, and the culture changes needed to achieve high performance, he is clear that the most important first step is to get the right people in the right place and the wrong people out of the wrong places before any attempt is made to implement individual and group changes. It should be a given that any culture change program is supported by corporate architecture or framework that provides strong vision, values, mission, objectives and strategies.

Knowing what you want to achieve and the changes you want to make is relatively simple, though it takes many minds and significant time to create. In many cases the result of this effort is a linear process that defines 'who does what by when'. This top line plan is then presented to various decision-making units of responsibility - directors, senior managers, middle managers, and line employees - and gives them goals which they are supposed to hit by fixed times.

Targets are essential to allow employees to know if they are part of the problem or part of the solution in the change management process. Targets allow all levels of management to know what they need to do next through a measurement of the objectives in relation to the time and quality benchmarks within the vision, mission and values context. Targets are the way for directors to know if the organization is on track for the changes that need to be in place to be more relevant in the tomorrow's markets.

All very neat and tidy, but ...

Unfortunately, hundreds of business school case studies continue to portray culture change as an opaque process that works if everything 'goes right' but can be a nightmare if it doesn't. And let's face it, many of the huge consultancies, working with the multinational organizations that award the multimillion-pound/dollar contracts on the basis that they are 'experts', have little to lose if the process fails, or comes in over-cost and underperforming. They get paid anyway - and somehow retain their veneer of expertise.

For smaller companies such failure can mean disaster - leading to loss of the company through financial failure - bankruptcy, receivership - or through a takeover or merger that negates the vision of the founders and the hard work of the people involved.

Change management tends to involve a stew of techniques that can be used differently by different 'experts' or practitioners. The key to success is to apply the appropriate techniques and measurements at the appropriate time.

But how do you know what is appropriate at what time?

Fortunately, CDSM's simple Ladder of ChangeTM model and process illustrates what is needed at each stage of change, in terms of human values.

This model helps to determine what type of processes and interventions are most appropriate at any stage in the change process, allowing the user to identify pre-existing processes that are sufficient and need little intervention, and others that may require a 'root and branch' change at some time in the future. This type of analysis can significantly reduce much of the complexity that adversely affects so many change programs.

All organizations, from two to three-person companies looking to expand (but not knowing how), to multinational corporations that need to change their management structures, policies and procedures to enable their products and services to be competitive in tomorrow's markets, would do well to heed to the lessons CDSM has learned over the years.

Let's look at just a couple of them.

Great recruiting is the key to great results

A very simple statement like this has hidden nuances that many companies and corporations may be unaware of. This lack of awareness has caused them to have spent, or be spending, significant amounts of time and money to make up for a current shortfall in their knowledge base. The cost of filling the hole can be justified by the results delivered - but often the results are sub-optimal and further costs are created when human factors, not experise factors, are not measured in the recruitment process. In other words, experience and expertise is well covered in recruiting procedures but the values systems of the candidates are seldom, if ever, measured. This simple fact prevents great recruiting.

So what is great recruiting?

Great recruiting means being able to measure the candidate for both the professional role experience they have - the standard competence-based CV - and the candidate's human values profile. The need for a human values profile will only grow in importance as cultures, national and business, undergo significant and continuous change.

CDSM has developed an exclusive and unique profiling process that can be used to provide any organization with insight about the values system of the candidate, thus enhancing the standard CV.

This Psychodynamic Profile measures the personal values system of the candidate and provides clear guidance on how they will perform the task or tasks they are being selected to play in business. The values profile works for highly educated experienced people, recent graduates with no work experience as well as it does for people who have relatively low educational attainments - but great skills if placed within the right team. Placing candidates within established teams is an everyday bread and butter job to HR departments in large corporations but also a potential day-to-day headache in small companies. Whether recruiting is seen as business as usual or a one-off and risky activity the dynamics of individual, national and organizational values changes requires changes in processes, some of them significant.

Social and cultural change drives the need for change - from data analyst to data interpreter.

CDSM research is providing recruiters with the data to create the tools most appropriate for changing needs. As the pace of digitalization and automation moves into the office from the shop floor, more and more HR departments are faced with new problems and objectives.

One of the biggest challenges right now for many organizations is finding people for positions and roles that do not exist yet; or attract a relatively small number of candidates with the requisite standard CV profile to fill the need.

This HR problem is created by a change in business culture in which production and usage of data has risen exponentially, but the rise in understanding of what the data is telling the user has not grown at the same rate. In many work situations, some very sophisticated analysis is being used by people whose level of understanding is much less sophisticated. At times the user's skill level is often barely rudimentary in terms of being able to use the data to hit goals and objectives.

This situation creates a consequent huge rise in demand for 'data interpreters' has presented recruiting firms and HR departments with a new profile to fill for their clients.

The problem is that there are few candidates who can rely on their past history CVs to fill the roles needed by companies. Recruiters try to make the best of the dynamic situation and have filled the gap with those who have a history of being 'data scientists' or 'data-analysts'.

The problem is that the job role really isn't about data, it is about communication, and often those good at communication are 'data averse' - the old science vs. art conundrum.

Using human values profiling techniques breaks the log jam of perception created by the conundrum. Or as we like to say at CDSM ...

... Change the language to change the perception

Using the language of human values and creating metrics based on empirically measuring those values can and will change the way to build appropriate change processes. Changing language means the processes can be rooted in the human values system of all existing and potential team members.

Data scientists and data analysts are often found wanting in their ability to successfully advise users of these facts of business in a way that is understandable to the user. This is likely due to an organizational architecture and a recognition and reward system that values presentation of facts over the need for insight by users.

In other words, a solid presentation of facts is rewarded more than the number and nature of the insights gained by users. This less than optimal process is often overlooked because of the thinking styles adopted by past and present management, and consultants, who are experts about roles in business, but have very little to no knowledge of the values of the human beings in those roles.

This results in a lot of data and information, but little workable wisdom.

As a wise NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) master practitioner said many years ago in workshop for a financial corporation -

"Communication ends with a K".

In NLP at that time the practitioners were teaching techniques based around different forms of processing information - visual, auditory and kinesthetic (VAK). Kinesthetic was defined as 'feeling'. In other words, if communications are not producing a feeling, they are less than optimal.

The important insight was that communications that just relay data or information have very little chance of producing positive feelings in most people. CDSM's research around the world has shown that the three main Maslow Groups and the twelve Values Modes all have different reactions to the same communication and that great communicators are able to talk the language of the different groups of human values - they speak at an empathetic level of needs and desires and not just at the level of data and analytics. They produce feelings!

A standard CV will not be able to identify this skill in the vast majority of cases.

CDSM has developed a method of identifying the candidates most appropriate for job roles that may not exist right now, or roles that have very small candidate bases.

All that said, the day-to-day problem for most recruiters and HR departments isn't about filling these types of new positions. More often it is about replacing people on existing teams within standardized business processes.

In these situations, the problem to be solved is to fit the role experience and human values of the candidate with the human values and role expectations of the team. The failure of so many job placements is not the skill level or role experience of the candidate, but the lack of emotional empathy within the team that is caused by frictions between values on the team; and even between a candidate's personal values and the corporate values of the company or corporation - the old 'it just doesn't feel right' niggle of so many work place situations.

CDSM recruiting methods can and do enhance standard CVs by linking the candidate's role history with a short questionnaire that identifies relevant aspects of their values systems. A values-based Psychodynamic Profile is then generated, clearly showing their values systems and the triggers that will stimulate or demotivate them in the work and team environment.

Recently CDSM has developed a working relationship with a new company, ValuesAdded+, to provide this streamlined service to HR departments and consultancies as a dedicated business unit.


Cultural Dynamics Strategy & Marketing Ltd.          email:          tel: +44 (0)208 744 2546