The Art of Strengths Coaching

W is for The Three Waves Approach To Shifting A Culture

Imagine you are a leader. You have been given the authority to do whatever is necessary to shift an organisation’s culture. Some leaders invite the employees to ‘change’, but this seldom works.

Another approach is to build successful prototypes that embody the desired culture. You then invite people to choose whether or not they want to join this new organisation.

Let’s explore this approach to shifting a culture. It often takes the form of going through three waves.

The First Wave: Building
Successful Prototypes

You can start by clarifying your picture of success. Start from your destination – perhaps 18 months in the future. Describe what you want to see happening at that date.

Working backwards, describe the things that must be achieved by the end of each quarter and work back to the present day. That is your road map towards achieving the picture of success. Then move onto the next stage.

Looking around the organisation, identify where you can build prototypes that will embody the future culture. These must stand at least a 7+/10 chance of success. If you are running an organisation that covers a continent, for example, identify the country leaders who will support the approach.

Slides W is for the Three Waves Approach.002

Good leaders communicate the organisation’s story, strategy and road to success. They aim to do this in a compelling way that resonates with people.

Explain to everybody in the organisation that you are building the future business. You would like volunteers who want to act as models. But make sure you have already earmarked three such places. Others may want to join, but make sure these are prepared to work hard to succeed.

Do everything possible to help people to build the successful prototypes. Get people to share the success stories at an organisational event. Then go onto the next stage.

Imagine that you are shifting a culture. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. It invites you to describe the specific things you can do to build successful prototypes.

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Slides W is for the Three Waves Approach.004

The Second Wave: Working With Volunteers
Who Follow The Principles And Deliver Success

People have shown the approach works. So now ask for other volunteers to model the desired culture. There are certain Dos and Don’ts during this crucial stage.

Dos

Do be certain you have the right leaders in place in each of the next wave of models.

Do work with them on clarifying their picture of success.

Do make sure they follow the principles embodied in the new way of doing business – rather than simply modify their present ways.

Do encourage them to work through the potential tough decisions.

Do provide the support they need to do the job and encourage them to get some early wins.

Do help them to do whatever is required to achieve success.

Don’ts

Don’t back leaders who say the right words but don’t translate these into action.

Don’t be half-hearted – people need to be serious about making change happen.

Deadlines focus the mind. Give people a deadline for presenting their success stories at another organisational event in, for example, 6 months.

At the same time, encourage the first wave of prototypes to move onto a higher level. They can also present their new successes at the next organisational event.

Imagine that you are shifting a culture. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. It invites you to describe the specific things you can do to work with volunteers who want to follow the principles and deliver success.

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Slides W is for the Three Waves Approach.006

The Third Wave: Make The Successful Principles
Mandatory And Build The Desired Culture

The first and second waves of prototypes present their success stories.

You then give people clear messages about the behaviours that are necessary for the future culture, but the future is now. The message you are giving in the third wave is that:

The principles are now mandatory

People can choose whether or not they want to opt-into the new way of working. They are to communicate with you – or their manager – within a month to show how they would like to contribute to the organisation’s goals. You will also provide them with the support they need to achieve ongoing success.

If they do not want to take this route, then it may simply be a matter of ‘fit’. The organisation will do its best to find a good way for them to move-on.

Sounds tough? Perhaps – but not tackling this issue is even tougher. The future is beckoning, however, so you present the organisation’s new picture of success.

People realise that you are announcing the next first wave. They can be part of shaping the future.

Imagine that you are shifting a culture. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. It invites you to describe the specific things you can do to make the principles mandatory and encourage people to deliver success.

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Slides W is for the Three Waves Approach.008

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