Has anyone else noticed how the current pandemic context seems to be enabling much faster culture change in organisations? The scale and pace of technology adoption and behaviour change has been impressive. More interesting and probably more significant is the more open, collaborative culture that is enabling better and faster decisions and action. We’ve been wondering what we can learn from this experience and insight.
A number of conversations with senior executives over the last week or so as we have moved on from the initial phase and been settling into the new WFH (working from home) context. The nature and pace of culture change has been enabled by combination of the communication technologies and the new workplace. A new workplace where senior executives have been freed from some of the established formality organisation structure and processes.
The most common example has been increased number of shorter, direct calls and emails amongst senior execs rather than communication mediated via assistants or drafted, formal responses. This more timely, direct communication seems to have helped deepen and broaden mutual understanding, thereby the quality of communication and consequent judgement and decision taking. Of course, there are potential downsides. Perhaps in terms of efficiency, but our initial assessment is that any loss of efficiency is outweighed by the increased effectiveness of this new behaviour alongside the significantly improved collective knowledge.
It will be interesting to see if this change in behaviour persists as we move through these next months and years. And more importantly, what we all learn from this experience. Sharing these stories of change seems to be an important first step.
Andy Webb says
We’ve seen all that at our organisation too Alistair. We’re certainly not going back to how things were. Crisis mode allowed us to sprint in part by different behaviours and in part by narrowing our focus and pausing a lot of initiatives. Though we’re in a marathon and not a sprint, so crisis mode won’t sustain us.
We’re in the process of defining our ‘new normal’ where we’re very intentional about the practices and behaviours that we want to sustain and those that won’t serve us in the long haul.
Effective collaboration has increased. Conversely there’s a risk of loss of informal knowledge sharing and we’re keen to see how hybrid and remote organisations do that well.