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Caught, Taught,Mandate or Free will part 2

In my last blog I talked about culture being caught or taught. In this follow on blog we explore the dilemma of mandating culture or allowing full freedom of choice.

Mandate or Free Will

One of the interesting things about culture is that it will always vary team to team, department to department, division to divisions and region to region.This is inevitable given the varying styles of leadership and the context that surrounds each team etc. The question when you are planning culture change is ‘how acceptable is that?’.
When it comes down to it you cannot mandate all aspects of culture at the individual level (unless you are a totalitarian state or a religion). People will always make their own choice, so lets put that aside and consider your approach to changing the culture you have today.
Some CEO’s gravitate to a mandating approach more than others. It will depend on their natural style or their previous experiences. Those who work in a shared service or business support environment often veer to the mandate because they are the ones who see and suffer from the variations between business units/regions etc. At the other end of the scale is a view that says ‘let each business unit choose’ but then the question is how far does Free will go? Division, department, team? At some point you have to draw a line and say ‘This is the way we do things around here’.

Once again the amount of mandate and where the line of choice is drawn depends on what your business needs and why you are trying to change the culture. If you need a consistent face when you go to market you may need to mandate how that is. If you are investing in a major IT upgrade you cannot afford people to choose whether they adopt or not.

Its the same with culture, look at the needs of the business and then look at the culture you are describing to meet those needs, the values that you are promoting and the behaviours you are looking for. The extent of mandate should be driven by how far away you are from that now, how big an imperative it is to be consistent and how destructive your existing culture is. If you let the business talk, rather than the personal preferences of you and your leaders, then it should tell you how you go about the culture change.

If you get it right, explain it well, demonstrate a need that all can see, help people align, make it easy to live by and get rid of the problems that the old culture had then caught, taught, mandate, free-will will not be a question that you need to ask because no-one in your organisation would want it any other way and they will say to new employees ‘Thats just the way we do things around here’


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