Wow! Why Corporate Cultures Are So Hard to Change

I was coaching an HR executive recently, when I expressed that they should consider help with corporate culture. 

He said, “What?”

I said, “You’ll need help changing a company culture.”

The question was asked in exasperation, “Rue, why is culture so hard to change?”

I smiled while I thought of an answer. My long-winded answers usually come with analogies. I liked this one, so I just thought I would share it.

I said to the HR exec:

Individuals make up families and we all have personalities and habits.

Families have cultures. Many families make tribes.

Tribes have cultures. Many tribes make nations.

Nations have cultures.

You ever try to change the culture of a nation? A tribe? A family?

How about just a habit of an individual within one family?

I said:

Think of the family as the divisions, departments, plants, areas, shops, and so on.

Think of the tribe as the company.

Think of the industry as a nation.

Again, you ever try to change the culture of a nation? A tribe? A family?

How about just one habit of an individual within a family?

I said:

You ever try to change the culture of an industry? A company? A division?

How about just one habit of one individual within one family?

I said:

There’s a culture above you and below you and next to you, not just the culture you are in, that frame your so called culture.

Individuals must change mindsets and habits, and families would have to change norms and practices and values and beliefs, and tribes would have to change traditions and mores, and nations would have to change laws. This is challenging at every level.

He said:

            Wow.

 

 

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