OXFORD REVIEW RESEARCH BRIEFING
Organisational culture has a significant on the success of any organisation. The problem is, managing organisational culture is not an easy task. In this podcast, David talks with Dr. Kate Price, author of a new book – Taming the Culture Tiger, the Art, and Science of. Transforming organisations and accelerating innovation.
Transcript – Managing organisational culture and culture change
Taming the Culture Tiger with Dr Kate Price
[00:00:00] David: This is an Oxford Review members only research briefing podcast. Hello and welcome back. Today I’m talking with Dr. Kate Price. Now Kate has recently published a new book called Taming the Culture Tiger, the Art and Science of. Transforming organizations and accelerating innovation. Welcome, Ken. Good morning.
[00:00:24] David: Morning. I wonder if you could just give us a little bit about your background and then what kind of led up to you writing the book.
[00:00:31] Kate: Sure. I trained in the UK as a clinical psychologist and worked with the National Health Service. Prison service and did some government work and then corporate healthcare, and I think from a lot of the work I’d been doing in that, I had this growing recognition of how difficult it is for humans to make change unless they’re in an environment that supports that.
[00:00:52] Kate: So, coming from that, Background of working with people who are really struggling in life, mental health systems in the prison system, [00:01:00] veterans, people with chronic illness. I saw that often those difficulties had stemmed from the environments that they were in and some of the experiences that they’d had in life.
[00:01:09] Kate: So the idea came that perhaps that we can make positive changes in the environment. Then we’re spending a lot of our time in the workplace, for instance. Then perhaps we could prevent the developments of some of those issues. And then over the last few years, I’d moved into working in corporate environments in the United States and really thinking about how some of those issues could be changed within organizations and improved that environment.
[00:01:34] Kate: And it became then even more important in the last few years cuz of the challenges I think we’re facing generally in the world. People are struggling more with work stress. Burnout health conditions. So if we want people to succeed, we really need to be prioritizing that wellbeing. So I guess I wrote the book cuz I wanted to help people understand some of the psychology behind why humans behave in the way they do.
[00:01:57] Kate: How we come together in groups, [00:02:00] why we might resist change or engage with our organizations better. And I really felt that leaders had a better understanding of some of these issues. Then they’re gonna be much better at engaging and supporting. Wanting people in the workplace at doing that, because I think that’s missing in leadership development
[00:02:16] Kate: I think it’s missing in schools, in education, we don’t really think about why people do what they do or how we best motivate people. Yeah.
[00:02:24] David: And how people, human beings react to things. And from my perspective, I’m a psychologist as well. My perspective of looking at change from a psychological perspective is a very useful one.
[00:02:36] David: Can we just can start with a question, mayor, what is culture and why does it matter?
[00:02:42] Kate: Sha, I think it matters for some of the reasons I’ve outlined before, that the environment we’re in is just incredibly important for how we behave, how we react, how we interact with other people, how we feel, and the way I define culture.
[00:02:56] Kate: Perhaps this is not very surprising for a psychologist, right? But I [00:03:00] like to think of it as being the personality of a company. So it’s made up of all the small things that we do each day. So it’s what people say, it’s how they think, it’s how they behave, it’s how they interact with their colleagues. It’s how they interact as part of a team.
[00:03:14] Kate: So it comes from all those small details. It’s not a big thing that you’re trying to shift. It’s kind of in the details of what we do. Certainly how I like to see
[00:03:23] David: it anyway. Yeah. So kind of the patterns of behavior and thinking within an organization. Would that be right? Yes, absolutely. Okay. So the book early on, one of the intriguing chapters that I found was how Our Brains and Belief Limit Change, and you discussed the idea that we’re predisposed not to notice change in quote, a very famous study from a psychological perspective.
[00:03:47] David: Anyway, a Festinger in 1956 when prophecy fails paper. Did you just explain this study and the findings and how it relates to culture and change?
[00:03:59] Kate: So, [00:04:00] as you say, it’s quite a famous study in psychology and it looks at a cult that believed the world was gonna end in December, 1954, and the fact that very few of them would actually question these beliefs even in face of what’s quite compelling evidence.
[00:04:15] Kate: They were still actually here in January, 1955. Right? So as humans, we are building our belief systems and they’re really physically hardwired into the neural networks of our brain. And if we think about it like that, we can understand maybe why they are quite difficult to change, especially those core beliefs that we formed early in life.
[00:04:35] Kate: And then over the years, we’ve kind of added evidence to it and really built them into quite solid relief systems. So because of that, then we are predisposed to see what we already believe. We wanna take in information that fits our existing beliefs. We tend to want then to also reject information that doesn’t fit with it.
[00:04:54] Kate: And we see that a lot in political circles and things. When we look at the media, people can reject things. [00:05:00] Even when there’s a lot of evidence for it, because it just doesn’t fit with what they believe. This idea of fake news and things like that. So it’s because of the way that we’ve built our belief systems that we tend to do that, and that of course has obvious implications for organizational change.
[00:05:14] Kate: If we’re presenting people with a new idea that doesn’t fit with what they already believe or it doesn’t fit with what they think should be the best solution, then of course they’re predisposed to reject that idea cuz it doesn’t fit with what
[00:05:27] David: they think. Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? How things like confirmation bias and a whole series of other kind of human biases causes problems with change.
[00:05:37] David: And you notice that those kinds of biases are also kind of, they’re culturally inherent, so they kind of sit within a culture.
[00:05:45] Kate: I think so, yes. And it depends if you see culture. There’s a whole nation’s culture of esteem. Different societies react in different ways to information, but then we could take culture down to, within an organization, a scientific organization is gonna [00:06:00] believe something very differently to pass an organization that’s in maybe the construction industry and has a
[00:06:06] Kate: Different set of beliefs underlying it, they’re gonna respond to change differently. Some are gonna require really practical solutions, whereas the science organizations I tend to be within, they’re gonna want to see all the evidence. They’re gonna want to read all the research behind it and know that psychology is real science in the same way that the bio industry is
[00:06:25] Kate: So people react in different ways and they need different things to confirm their beliefs. So we’re playing ways into really understanding who our audience is and what they need to hear and what they need to see. And of course, large organizations may have many different cultures and many different belief systems within them.
[00:06:42] Kate: So how do we speak to audiences that may be, have different biases, have different ways of interpreting information? Yeah, that’s, I think, a challenge for any leader wanting to make a
[00:06:52] David: change. Yeah, I think this issue about cultural beliefs is really important and just from my own experience, and I’ll be interested in [00:07:00] knowing your experience about like how often do organizations actually start thinking about the beliefs that are kind of part of their culture and what impact those beliefs are having on the way people are kind of behaving and things that are happening.
[00:07:15] David: I dunno, what have you found? I
[00:07:16] Kate: would say that people don’t think about it that much in organizations or not in any structured way anyway. You often hear that that’s not how we do it around here. That’s not the way that things have been done. People won’t like that change that they don’t think behind it.
[00:07:31] Kate: To what underlies it. Well, why don’t they want to make that change? Why will they resist it? Because if you understand those reasons behind it, then it becomes easy to find a solution to it. Right. But it’s only with the understanding of it that you can make the change or you can find a solution. If you don’t look or seek to understand, then you’re just kind of gonna be pushing against a brick wall all the time, I
[00:07:52] David: think.
[00:07:52] David: Yeah, and I think it’s difficult if you are part of the culture sometimes to see the culture itself. It kind of takes an [00:08:00] outside pair of eyes to kind of come in and have a look at it and go, the way that you are perceiving things is like this. Yeah.
[00:08:06] Kate: At Kevan as a consultant, you have to be quite wary of like, how quickly do you become absorbed into the culture, or if you.
[00:08:14] Kate: Only deal with the leadership team or only a certain portion of the leadership team. How biased is your own view of the culture becoming from what you are hearing, how do you make sure you are getting like a full view and really understanding what’s going on? If you’ve been there six months and you are with the lead team every other day, How involved are you in what they’re doing?
[00:08:36] Kate: Where do your allegiances lie and things like that. I think even as a consultant, as the outside P, that’s something to be constantly aware of and reflecting on. And. Yeah,
[00:08:46] David: it’s kind of an ethnographers art, isn’t it? The ability to be able to be an organization and still being able to be reflexive and reflective about how it’s impacting you.
[00:08:56] David: What we’re agreeing with, what we’re disagreeing with, I think. Yes, it’s really important. [00:09:00] Yeah, so just so changing cultures is kind of a natural thing. It’s kind of occurring all the time in every culture. There’s kind of a constant kind of subtle shift. All the time in any culture, there’s new things coming in and old things kind of going out, kind of fashions and those kinds of things going on naturally within any kind of culture.
[00:09:21] David: And then occasionally we get these kind of big sudden cultural shifts at some form of shock or something that’s happened. And there’s a whole theory behind this called punctuated equilibrium. This idea that we tend to have periods of time with just that creeping change and then suddenly bangs something will happen.
[00:09:38] David: You know, we get this sudden moment of a lot of change, and obviously things like Covid and the banking crisis in 2008 of those kinds of events. And we’re getting a lot of those kinds of cultural shifts through things like technology. Um, when I grew up a long time ago in the 1960s, in those days from a kind of a macro culture, [00:10:00] there were kids on the streets everywhere playing.
[00:10:02] David: And these days you can drive around housing, estates and things and hardly see any children. You kind of wonder if an alien came down, you kind of wonder whether they’d think we actually had children because they’re all sick to be inside playing their Xboxes or on computers and things like that. And in fact, recently I found a photograph of my sister and myself on a street.
[00:10:23] David: Yes, in the sixties and there was only about two cars on the whole parked on the whole street. No cars moving. Huge shifts in that have kind of been cumulative and then led to big kind of shifts. And there are other reasons for this kind of punctuated equilibrium kind of state of things such as mass media, where we get kind of ready access to stories that we probably didn’t do in the past.
[00:10:48] David: And the big question is, Really from a point of view of managing cultural change and doing it to an organization, having a cultural change process, there’s a couple [00:11:00] question that sits under that, and that’s just how malleable and susceptible is a culture to purposeful and directive change. What do you reckon?
[00:11:09] Kate: Well, I think it’s very malleable. Although I think you have to be very thoughtful about how you go about that and also what direction you want the change to take, cuz change doesn’t always happen in the direction you want it to go. You were saying about the media and then you know, the lack of kids outside on the street.
[00:11:26] Kate: I mean, one of the things that often comes up when you’re thinking about this is if people don’t want their kids outside, we worry about abduction and things like that. There’s actually substantially less. Of that happening now than there was in the 1970s. But we have the perception that there’s a great deal more because of the way that media portrays it
[00:11:44] Kate: We’re sort of bombarded, aren’t we, with information about a topic. And then you gradually see these shifts in behavior, but especially the behavior, if the information causes people to be fearful. Or they believe it’s really gonna affect them personally in a negative [00:12:00] way, then that’s going to be more likely to cause a shift.
[00:12:02] Kate: Same with the example you gave of, of Covid and the banking crisis. These are very negative events that cause us to react fearfully, and I think humans do tend to respond to change that’s imposed on them or where they don’t have any say in it. It tends to cause this uncertainty and stress, and very specifically the physical stress response.
[00:12:24] Kate: I didn’t, you know, also called the fight flight response. So if our body’s shifting into that mode, then we’re much less likely to be able to use our higher cognitive capacities to analyze what’s occurring. So we’re more likely to have a big emotional response to the event, and if we have big emotional response, we’re more likely to create a change.
[00:12:44] Kate: But for organizations that plays out Wally because it doesn’t tend to be a change in the direction of the positive change they’re trying to make. It tends to be a reaction of, oh, you are making me do this thing. I don’t really understand that, what that means for me. Yeah. Like the [00:13:00] sound of that, I’m not gonna do it.
[00:13:01] Kate: So they re, it sets up a wall of resistance and once that resistance is in place, then of course you have to work to overcome it. So I think anything that causes us to feel fearful or anxious will. Or as these defenses, we’re gonna resist changes or we’re going to react to them in big ways like we did with Covid and things.
[00:13:19] Kate: And of course there you saw groups either reacting quite different, but quite extreme ways. Some people were all for it. Some people were like, I don’t even believe in this. I’m not doing any of it. So that’s again, back to what we were talking about before with the biases or the predisposed to believe what we already believe in.
[00:13:37] Kate: We’re gonna react in a way that fits with our existing belief
[00:13:40] David: patterns. Yeah. Which comes back to the whole thing about why beliefs within cultures are really important, but also the reactions of people within cultures. How the typical kind of reactions that a culture will have to particularly to kind of fear events and things.
[00:13:55] David: And also I think what. You say there that’s really important is this idea [00:14:00] about how things like fear and those kinds of things can have a, a negative impact on cognitive functioning. It can reduce cognitive load. Uh, the ability to be able to kind of see things, to perceive things and take in more information is significantly reduced.
[00:14:14] David: And it kind of is this idea of cognitive tunneling, one or two other things. So
[00:14:19] Kate: if you are then in an organization and you’re thinking about some of those things, if you’re gonna then introduce an initiative, typically what happens is the leader talks about it positively once or twice, right? But then the employees, they leave and they talk in depth amongst themselves
[00:14:34] Kate: And they’re more likely to be having their, well, what does this really mean for us? How’s this gonna impact my job? How’s it gonna impact our team? Am I at risk of losing my job? Things like that. So those conversations are more pervasive. They, so the employees are hearing those conversations that are more negative, more often.
[00:14:52] Kate: And so the resistance likely to grow, and I think that’s what you typically see. Leaders mention it. They talk about it in a big town hall in a big meeting. They [00:15:00] introduce the strategy and then they don’t talk about it again. They think their job’s done. But what we really have to do is be thinking about, well, how is our message the prominent one?
[00:15:09] Kate: How are we engaging other people to spread the message of the change we want to see? And how do we make sure we’re kind of consistently. Communicating that so that people hear it in a good way and it sort of overwhelms the more negative stories that could take its place because the culture that spreads, the change that takes place is gonna be really the one that people hear most.
[00:15:30] Kate: Yeah. And
[00:15:30] David: quite often, as you were saying, they do the big town hall and everybody goes away and starts thinking about it and then starts talking about it and in fact write it. Sorry, I’ve gotta skip to the end of the book. You make a really interesting comment, you say, And I’ve kind of highlighted this in the book, all parts of this journey, Aiden, transforming yourself as a leader in your organization.
[00:15:49] David: Share the commonality and, and this is the important bit for me anyway. Share the commonality of prioritizing human emotion and then wellbeing and the willingness to take [00:16:00] risks and do something different. And that if you could comment on this kind of centrality of human emotion in the whole kind of culture
[00:16:08] Kate: change package.
[00:16:09] Kate: Yeah. I think when it comes down to it, whatever you do in an organization, unless it’s a fully automated process, it involves people. So we very rarely consider people and how they interact with our process, with our procedure, with our strategy, but they’re the people who make. All of it work, and we are reliant on how well their brains function in order to do that, if we are causing them through the structures we have, if we’re causing stress, if we’re causing uncertainty, we want made scientists to be very innovative, be working on some new.
[00:16:42] Kate: Molecule. It’s a discovery They have to be able to use the higher cognitive abilities of their brain. As soon as we cause that fear and uncertainty, we shut that down and they can’t do their jobs very effectively. So I think for me, if we are not looking at the emotional piece, Of people’s [00:17:00] lives and how they experience that on a daily basis and how they interact with work, then we are missing something huge in the workplace because we are not just people who turn up to work and leave all our stuff at home, right?
[00:17:11] Kate: Our emotions go with us wherever we go. Our emotions are triggered constantly by what we hear, see, experience during the day. They’re always there. So to try and pretend that they’re not, it’s a fallacy. You just can’t do it. Right? So if organizations really started thinking about what people’s experience was, how they felt, I think they’d also understand how it impacts their productivity, the success of the business, how well people do their jobs, whether they feel overworked versus kind of balance with maybe the same workload
[00:17:43] Kate: It can just be how they feel about it that makes the difference there. So for me, that’s incredibly important.
[00:17:50] David: Yeah, and I think quite a lot of leadership teams and organizations kind of treat emotions as a bit of a black box and a little bit too hard to deal with, [00:18:00] and therefore they think we’ll stick to the facts without thinking that.
[00:18:03] David: All of this is going to affect people and it’s gonna affect them emotionally and the decisions that people make. There’s an awful lot of research showing this, that the decisions that we make humans make are primarily emotional decisions first, and then ratified cognitively post decision. And that has a, a huge impact.
[00:18:20] David: One of the things that I think that isn’t taken seriously enough in. Any change situation within organizations, but particularly in cultural change situations is the impact that the culture, the change has on people’s identity, and then the knock on effect of that on them, on their emotions, and therefore that then starts driving their perceptions about what’s going on and their reactions and things.
[00:18:48] Kate: Yeah, I think that’s very true. I think all those things are tied together, and especially when people have been with companies for a long time and you see it become tied to their identity, their job is a [00:19:00] big part of their identity. We spend a lot of our time at where most of our working hours probably are spent at work these days.
[00:19:07] Kate: So yeah, I think you can’t underestimate that piece of the puzzle
[00:19:12] David: Now in the book, well, it’s in the title actually, but also in the book you talk about change culture and innovation. So for you, how are these three things connected?
[00:19:21] Kate: Yeah. Well, I think again, if you think about culture as being made up of all the small things right, that we say and do each day, then we can really understand the impact.
[00:19:29] Kate: So for change to occur, we are really looking to make a shift in the way that people think and act. And so then culture becomes a huge determinant in whether we succeed or not. And then innovation intrinsically, right, requires an ability to change and adapt, but it also. Needs people to feel comfortable speaking up to identify errors that are happening
[00:19:49] Kate: They need to be able to collaborate, trust one another, and that again means they have to be in an environment or a culture that enables them to feel safe doing so. So I think if you want to have an [00:20:00] innovative organization that can change with the times, then you’ve got to pay attention to the culture and whether or not it enables people to feel safe enough to engage with the change and also with their work and how they innovate and think.
00:20:13] David: I think that issue about employee voice, getting people to speak up and feel that they’re able to speak up, I is really critical in change and particularly in culture change. I think one of the reasons for that is that, and you mentioned this again in the conclusions about every change event is a unique event.
[00:20:31] David: But not exactly your words, but if you engage in a change event in an organization, it’s unique in its own right because of it’s a unique organization in a unique time within a unique context and those kinds of things. And therefore, there isn’t gonna be just a blueprint that you can just drag off the shelves and say, we’ll use that.
[00:20:48] David: And to a certain extent, because of that, organizations. Are in a way they’re making plans, but there’s a bit of a leap in the dark with these things anyway, and they need the feedback. They need to [00:21:00] understand what’s going on, how it’s impacting down on the ground level with the customers and those kinds of things, which is why this whole idea of employee voice becomes really important as opposed to it just being a kind of an this is what we’re going to do and sticking fervently to the plant.
[00:21:16] David: And you mentioned a few, quite a few times, this whole idea about flexibility. Within kind of change and organizational change, I just wondered what your comments are about this whole idea about developing or being more flexible within organizations during these kinds of events.
[00:21:34] Kate: Yeah. I think sometimes we tend to develop a strategy and as you say, kind of just stick with it.
[00:21:40] Kate: And it’s a five year plan, so you will go through with your five year plan regardless, but things change along the way, right. Or you need to be looking at it. Cuz sometimes things don’t work. So often I will help organizations design a plan for cultural change, but it doesn’t work, right? Something in it just doesn’t hit right.
[00:21:58] Kate: But, so we could keep [00:22:00] going. We could just keep kind of blindly pushing board, but that’s again, gonna create that kind of resistance. So we need to be able to look at our strategies and we need to be able to adapt along the way. I like to see, are you thinking about cultural change? I like to think about it more as an experiment than as a strategy.
[00:22:14] Kate: So you know what you want to do. But you’re gonna go in, you’re gonna try out your hypothesis, you’re gonna put your strategy into place, but you’re gonna test it. You’re gonna make sure you’re getting feedback. You’re gonna see how people are responding to it. If something’s not hitting right with one part of your audience, how do you adapt it to make sure it does sit right with them, rather than waiting for a whole year until you’ve really got those people disengaged with it.
[00:22:38] Kate: Right, so, so we want to make sure we are continually keeping people engaged, involved, and that’s what leads to the flexibility. And it’s the same if you think about a scientific experiment. You want people to speak up early on in the research stage so that you don’t waste millions of dollars maybe developing a pharmaceutical product when you know Joe over there, he knew that wasn’t gonna work [00:23:00] three months ago, but he didn’t feel comfortable enough to say to his bosses, well, that’s not gonna work
[00:23:05] Kate: And I think part of it is how we have organizations structured at the moment. We, a lot of our organizational models, of course, came from around the industrial revolution where you had a boss, loads of people turned up, did some factory work. That’s not the work we are doing now, but we are still working within those same organizational models.
[00:23:21] Kate: But now, instead of having somebody turn up and just wanting them to do something on a process line, we’re actually wanting people to think, to engage. And that requires something different of our brains. But we haven’t really changed the structures. In which we’re asking people to do that. That’s a bigger topic, a bigger challenge maybe.
[00:23:39] David: Yeah. And, and you talk about this in the book, this whole idea about seeing, um, organizational change as scientific challenge is an experiment just like even if you’re not in the scientific community. You know, you’ll have done science, no doubt at school. You’ll have run tests and you’ll have tested things in order to see whether they work rather than making a [00:24:00] decision that they’re gonna work at the beginning and using the scientific method.
[00:24:03] David: And, and I think that’s key, which is for me, one of the real strengths of this book. It’s looking at it from a kind of a scientific research point of view as opposed to that kind of battery ram type. This is what works.
[00:24:17] Kate: Yeah, so it’s written no one method that works. I think for any organization it’s about looking at what you have and then acknowledging as well that the leaders and people within that organization are the ones with most knowledge.
[00:24:29] Kate: So as a consultant, I can’t come in and just apply my model or blindly. I can apply elements of it, but most of it is about being curious about, well, what’s already happening here? What is it we want to amplify? What is it? You know, that’s not working so well that we want to make change in where are your strengths and how do we use them?
[00:24:47] Kate: So it’s about kind of seeing all that and then using my skills as a psychologist to take those pieces and put it together into something that really works for bad organization rather than, as you say, just, Hey, this is what I think works, so I’m gonna [00:25:00] make you do
[00:25:00] David: this. Yeah. So what kinds of barriers are there to kind of purposeful and directive cultural change?
[00:25:07] Kate: The biggest one I see is I think there’s just a lack of understanding about how to do it. We expect leaders at the top for an organization to be able to do this, but yet at no point in their careers, in their education did we teach them how to understand people or how to do this kind of change, or even really how to successfully manage or lead people or know how are they.
[00:25:27] Kate: Think and how they behave. So they’re being asked to do something that we’ve never shown them how to do, and I think that’s a very unfair expectation in many ways. So I think if people can gain some more of that knowledge, then that would be the one thing that would make a big shift in how change works within organizations.
[00:25:45] David: And that’s one of the advantages of a consultant who’s been through this, thought about it, looked at the research about it, brings that kind of experience into the organization. And so what about the levers, purposeful and directive, organizational change? [00:26:00] What kind of makes it work?
[00:26:01] Kate: Yes. I’ll come back again to leaders.
[00:26:04] Kate: This isn’t to say that all culture change is on the shoulders of the leaders though, right? Because it’s not Culture change requires the participation of absolutely everybody within an organization. But if you don’t have the supportive leadership, and if leadership aren’t kind of engaged with it and modeling the changes that they want to see, then it tends not to work
[00:26:24] Kate: So the leaders need to be very good at thinking about how they impact people, what they’re modeling. Are they modeling the desired culture? They want to see how are they making people in the organization feel, and are they getting people engaged, but they don’t have to be doing all the work, right? They want to be finding leaders at every level of the organization who leveraging informal influences, identifying.
[00:26:44] Kate: Groups, maybe employee resource groups within the organization that are gonna support your changes that are gonna be promoting your message. And again, it’s that are you making sure the positive story about your change is the one that’s most prominent? So who’s there [00:27:00] telling that? Because most of the time, and certainly junior people in the organization don’t have much exposure to you.
[00:27:05] Kate: As a senior leader, so if you’re the only one telling that story, they’re not hearing it very much. So who else is telling it? Where is it being told? Who supports it? Who are your advocates? I think that’s one of the biggest levers for making change is making sure it’s kind of spread throughout the whole organization.
[00:27:21] David: Yeah, because from a leadership point of view, usually your message goes through of the conduits managers and other people, and it’s making sure that they’re aligned. With with the thing before they go off and start spraying the news, isn’t were? Yes,
[00:27:36] Kate: absolutely. If they don’t hit, then they’re gonna tell us a different story to their people, aren’t they?
[00:27:41] David: Yeah. And that happens a lot though, where the managers don’t really understand why this is happening and they don’t have the same vision of where we’re going with all of this and. They’re scared themselves because particularly with things like, there’s an awful lot going on with ch change within organizations at [00:28:00] the moment because of technology, for example, where people are really fearing for their jobs and that’s where the the message can at best get mangled.
[00:28:09] David: At worst, people are kind of start operating against it in order for self-preservation purposes. Okay, so if there were three or four things that a leader who’s kind of responsible for, An organization, an organizational change should be thinking or. Viewing before they start out on the process, apart from, of course, reading your book, what would that
[00:28:33] Kate: be?
[00:28:34] Kate: I think the first piece is always to think about themselves, the skills they have, if they could focus on developing their self-awareness. Because people, as we’ve said, are gonna look up to them to see what’s expected. So they need to be exemplifying the culture that they want to build. So really thinking, what are my strengths?
[00:28:51] Kate: What are my weaknesses? What are the limitations that hold me back? What are my own beliefs and what are the biases that I’m bringing into things? So a lot of the work I [00:29:00] do, I guess, is coaching with the senior leaders, and it’s not coaching for career development normally, is they tend to be extremely good leaders already.
[00:29:09] Kate: And what they are looking for is to understand what it is they don’t know about themselves already. They want to know how can they better lead their teams? How can they develop the culture in the organization? So it’s thinking about how their skills and abilities kind of play into that larger picture and really how are they then, uh, consistent with.
[00:29:30] Kate: What they’re doing. And then the next piece I think is really working with their lead team to ensure that they’re aligned. I see a lot of lead teams who tell me they’re aligned and yes, they all say the same words, but when you dig in and you ask them what that means to them, it turns out. It means very different things.
[00:29:47] Kate: So they’re actually all kind of pulling outwards away from each other rather than working together. But they don’t necessarily see it themselves cuz the language they’re using is the same. So sometimes it’s working to understand, well, do you have true [00:30:00] alignment? Are your people really engaged with that?
[00:30:01] Kate: Because again, everyone else in the organization, if you’re doing coach change, is gonna look up to that team. They want to see them all in the same playing field. They want to see them all modeling the same kinds of behaviors to know that actually, yes, this is a real true change that’s happening. And then the third thing I’d highlight is, comes back to the our preexisting beliefs.
[00:30:22] Kate: How we react to new information and how we feel when we impose change on people. And that’s quite a fear response. If you can educate the organization about new concepts before you introduce as a change, you’re gonna make. That makes a huge difference. So I’d call it neuropsychological priming, right? It makes use of the ways we use memory to understand the world around us, and then by using that idea, we can provide education to people.
[00:30:47] Kate: We can allow employees to understand what we’re thinking about as a lead team, as we develop our strategy. So it doesn’t come as a surprise. But doing that, they’re building these concepts up in their mind. They’ve got memory representations [00:31:00] of them. They know they’ve had an opportunity to. Think about what it means for them, how they might engage with it.
[00:31:06] Kate: So then when you introduce your initiative, it’s not so new. It doesn’t create fear in the same way. It’s more likely to spark curiosity and people will have questions and be engaged in that way. I think, yeah, educate, involve, and include people on the process as you go along. Yeah, I
[00:31:21] David: think that’s so important idea of preparing the ground, but preparing the psychological ground so that people are in a place, and we were talking earlier about this, the impact that change can have on the way people are perceiving things, the way that they think, and also the amount of stuff that they can bring in.
[00:31:40] David: So the higher the stress levels. The lower the cognitive load and things called dissonance and things like that. The impact of those things have, and the preparation of the ground can really overcome quite a lot of that. It’s understanding how to do that and I think is really important. Hey, [00:32:00] thank you so much.
[00:32:01] David: What’s next for you? What are you working on now and. How can people contact you if they want to?
[00:32:08] Kate: Well, currently I’m doing a lot of work with senior leaders in organizations, and it’s what we were saying are people who are really interested in developing themselves in order to better support their team and develop these psychologically safe, innovative cultures.
[00:32:21] Kate: But it’s really people who are very willing to make that transformation in themselves. Maybe look at the deep and dark bits that they might not like to look at. I really enjoying that kind of work because it is so amazing to see the change that they can implement in their organizations. Just through kind of this understanding of the ways people think and then how they themselves enact those beliefs and things.
[00:32:45] Kate: Makes a big change in the organizations. So yeah, it’s always good to be able to watch that and support the work they do. So yes, if people are interested in doing that in their organization, doing either coaching or consultation work, they can get in touch with me through LinkedIn, [00:33:00] just Dr. Kate Price on LinkedIn or through my website, which is dr kate price.com.
[00:33:05] David: Yeah, we’ll put links in the show notes so we can contact you directly. Thank you so much for your time today, Kate. The book is called Taming the Culture Tiger, the Art and Science of Transforming Organizations and Accelerating Innovation. It’s published by Lioncrest, was written by the amazing Dr. K Price and is available now and the links for that are also in the show notes
[00:33:30] David: Thank you so much. No problem.
[00:33:32] Kate: It is lovely to come on the show. Thanks very much, David. Yeah, it’s
[00:33:35] David: been a hoot. This is David Wilkinson from the Oxford Review and this has been a members only podcast. You will find a link to the research briefing and the references in the show notes for this podcast.
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