Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Making Change Stick

When we want to make change in organisations, we often don't think enough about how we will make change stick. It is all very well to think about the change itself, but the ramifications of change run far further and deeper than we may initially consider. 

Hellriegel and Slocum have an excellent graphic which shows us just how culture knits an organisation together, and so reminds us of exactly what else needs to be modified to support our intended change. Called the Diagnostic Model of Change, it allows us to consider the broader elements of change in an organisation.

They suggest that we think of our intended change in seven categories, and determine the change requirements for each category:
  • Organisational Design: how your organisation is put together - whether it is centralised, de-centralised, in autonomous teams, business units or geographically isolated will all have an impact on whether your cultural change works or is rejected. Culture, strategy, and structure are intertwined, so a new culture is likely to need a new combination of tasks and responsibilities. Be prepared to consider initiating a reorganisation, but wherever possible, don't make people redundant (redundant people may become bitter, and those left behind feel guilty).
  • Organisational Systems: implement the process and systems changes identified in your audit; for example, to green your entire work processes, you will need to consider strategy, finance, IT, marketing, manufacturing, value chain, supplier-customer relationships, and inputs and outputs.
  • Reward Systems: Change HR processes so new personnel are introduced to the culture and are rewarded for behaviours that benefit the organisation. You may need new rewards systems, evaluation, induction, socialisation & social functions to support the changed culture
  • Leadership: you will need new stories & rituals to convey and drive down the new vision - the cultural artefacts that are the warp and weave of the fabric of an organisations culture and legitimise your new way of doing things.
  • Teams: shake people out of their silos and comfort zones. Lack of team participation is a common way for cultural innovation to fail.
  • Individuals: though acts of leadership by individuals throughout the organisation, the new culture is embedded, story by story, act by act, ritual by ritual, until the change takes. This means you need to select people who will embrace the change and help drive it down through the organisation, and absorb their gritty understanding of the detail of their work, linking that with the intended change.
You can watch a video clip explaining this at:

I use this a lot. It is very, very practical.


  • Hellriegel, Don & Slocum, John W. Jr. (2007). Organizational Behavior (11th Edition). USA: South-Western College Publishers (p. 457, Figure 16.2). 
  • Peters, Thomas J. & Waterman, Robert H. (1982). In search of excellence: lessons from America's best-run companies. USA: Harper & Row. (7S Model for Change Management) 

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