Persistence and the Alteration of Cultural Dynamics

Peter Drucker once declared, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Every group has a culture. A culture is a set of expectations or a set of rules of how people operate together. In organizations managers encounter many challenges and respond by problem solving. These logical efforts occur within the culture or shared set of expectations. If an initiative goes outside the cultural expectations there is conflict and the problem solving effort tends to get modified until it conforms to the cultural expectations.

The challenge is to stop trying to move away from that which is unwanted. The challenge is to identify a new result that we want to create, to move toward what we really want. The shift to purpose creates a different dynamic. By envisioning the future and acting upon it, we become positive deviants. We act in ways that are outside the cultural rules. Knowing and acting on the result we want to create disturbs the culture and creates opposition.

The emergence of opposition may be unsettling yet it is a marker of progress. If we remain committed and persist in the face of resistance, our committed behavior becomes a message that someone actually cares enough about the organization to suffer the cost of personal conflict. The presence of such commitment communicates. People begin to contemplate the possibility, even if they are against it. The possibility enters the collective conversation where it takes on a life of its own.

The enactment of committed purpose is much more powerful than words. When we courageously move forward we initiate the dynamics of cultural change. To do so is to empower one’s self. Empowered people tend to empower their community. The culture begins to change.




3 thoughts on “Persistence and the Alteration of Cultural Dynamics

  1. These words have given me an incredible sense of courage! On Monday I have a conference organised with my senior staff and I have been feeling very discouraged about the experience because of their combined resistance to anything that involves change or commitment. I was at a loss for what I could do to encourage change because nothing seems to have taken hold in the past.

    This post helped me reflect on the fact that although i have not seen the change I desired in full, there have been small victories along the way. It is possible that I am witnessing the beginnings of my colleagues contemplating the change, and I am full of courage now to continue acting on the desired result.


    • Hamish,
      I am thrilled with your response. I wonder if it would be productive to start some of your meetings with the people by handing them a given positive passage and then asking for their insights. I wonder if doing this a number of times would begin to shift the culture without you having to direct them.
      My best to all the family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robert,

        I has almost been a year and I feel a great sense of ingratitude for not having replied.

        I took your advise last year. I began the sessions with my small group studying a few passages on leadership together – specifically being a courageous leader who resists the urge to slip back into old culture when resistance in met. It changed the groups mentality immediately.
        As we discussed how we have measure up in the recent past they spoke more honestly with me than they have before. We identified a number of issues with how we lead our people that set the direction for the agenda that followed. Each time we opened up discussion on a new topic, my group of managers we’re more critical of themselves before laying blame on their situation or staff.
        We achieved more in that 2 day conference than we have in a long time. And the change has been lasting. We have had a very successful year.

        Thank you for your help. Also, for your inspiration ongoing.

        Hamish Parsons


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