Article: Why culture needs to change in this evolving world


Why culture needs to change in this evolving world

Quest to learn new things, embrace ideas, irrespective of the source and building mission based teams which get rewarded for customer outcomes and not just meeting functional metrics will build sustainable organizations.
Why culture needs to change in this evolving world

The world around us is evolving at a speed we never imagined. In the new world, there are too many interdependencies and connections. A terrorist attack in Europe can impact the stock market in Asia. A domestic policy decision in US can grow an industry and solve unemployment issues in India and many more. Interestingly, the world is manifesting itself as a complex web like system just like internet, which actually is the architect of lot of these interdependencies. Interesting to see that the virtual world is impacting the physical world and is influencing its form.

This evolution brings its own opportunities and challenges to the business world. From business strategies to organization structures, to what the leaders should do?….Everything is undergoing a transformation. It’s an accepted fact that culture is the core of an organization, so to be able to make any realistic and long lasting change which helps meet the needs of the twenty first century, one need to change the culture. What needs to change?

Individual excellence to collective brilliance:

Einstein and Edison were brilliant. Their discoveries made a tremendous impact to our lives. More recently, Steve jobs changed the way we interface with digital media. However, evolution of technology and complexity of problems faced in today’s world requires multi-disciplinary skills and speed in innovation. Organizations have no choice but to create an environment which fosters teamwork.

While it is easy to say, organizations need to completely change their structures and systems to enable teamwork. Paradigms to consider…individual goals to team goals; individual assessments to team evaluations; closed offices to collaborative workspaces; traditional vertical structures to agile, horizontal mission based teams. Unless structure and systems align to encourage expected behaviors, teamwork will continue to be a nice to do thing.


Gone are the days of taking a few years to build a new product. Entry barriers have reduced. There is a lot of competition. With everyone trying to get the consumer’s eyeball, the only way to survive is to move fast. How can organizations build a culture of speed? Iterative thinking, encouraging experimentation and taking risks on new ideas help accelerate efforts. Experiment, learn and keep moving. “Some days you win and some days you learn” best defines what is needed.

The best analogy is of a start-up. The only way startups can survive is by generating revenues before the funds start getting dried up. When does it become good enough to move forward has changed significantly in last few years.


Leaders play the most central role in transforming and building new culture. People emulate leaders and role model their behaviors

Charismatic leader to a humble learner

Jeffrey Krames in Leading with humility says -Smell like your flock”….Confront Adversity Head-On” In March 2014, Pope Francis knelt and confessed publicly. He thus defined himself as a sinner – who could be redeemed through the Catholic rite of confession – and as someone who deserves forgiveness because “by extension, everyone is a sinner.” The leader of the Catholic Church demonstrated that he doesn’t put himself above anyone else. This completely changes the game and makes leader as one amongst many. This environment builds a high performing team. People who work for humble leaders “role model” the behavior and acknowledge mistakes- a critical need to build a strong team..

Don’t review; enable success

Traditionally, leaders have been groomed in a way to believe that their role as a leader entails conducting reviews. This helps them in getting to know the details and guide the new bees. Some of the most successful organizations in the recent past like Facebook, Google and many others came into existence with an idea from a 20 something.

Every idea counts, every person counts. Leaders need to take risks and unleash potential, remove roadblocks, coach and counsel more than advice and ask. This will help enable success, help enable ideas to fruition, help enable decision making.  


In the 21st century of more and more transparency is needed. Leaders have the responsibility to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas freely. Opinions should not be only heard, but sought out. As someone once said, employees in the field are the SWAK- someone with actual knowledge…they will drive success!

Communicate, communicate and communicate

New channels (social media), from what to why of message, from just sharing information to two way dialogue, from sharing disagreement to having constructive conflict. This is not just a nice to do but an essential need of organizations especially considering how distributed globally they are.

Efficiency to Agility

The world is moving away from the era of efficiency focus to the one where agile teams respond and innovate faster to address the market needs. In the last century, organizations focused on optimization which helped in developing quality management systems, process workflows, cost productivity efforts etc.

Respond to the world around us…org success in relation to the world and changing times and not efficiencies. In the equation y = f(x1, x2, x3…); Xs have become more complicated. Processes should enable results.  Every process which is not an enabler and which hinders speed and success for the customer, should be questioned..

The world will continue to evolve and so will be the expectations of organization. Quest to learn new things, embrace ideas, irrespective of the source and building mission based teams which get rewarded for customer outcomes and not just meeting functional metrics will build sustainable organizations.

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Topics: Culture

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