I have been working with a lot of organizations on various organizational transformation projects. There is no doubt that the staff in various departments of these organizations I work for,  want that their companies to performs better, and grow faster, but unfortunately sometimes these well meaning employees themselves are impediments to their own wishes. Most of them work in departmental silos. They have their territory, beyond which they neither want to think or co-operate.

Departmental boundaries are much larger, stronger and deeper than we would want to believe. So I have lately been trying to find out how can these boundaries be diluted or exchanges across departments made smoother.

As Charles Duhigg mentions in his Power of Habit, we need to look for those elusive KeyStone habits which can drive this change. We normally read about how an adversity brings an organization together and they fight the threat off and in the process build a much flatter, responsive and world class organization which is a quick and flexible to the changes happening in the business environment.

So my next question was would it be possible to transform organizations without them having to face adversities if we target the right habits and processes within them?

Well after much observation I find that few things that successful and responsive organizations do that can easily be replicated by many more of us lesser mortals and our enterprises.

  1. Understanding the habit – Normally when we choose a transformational habit we need to be sure that it is something everyone in the organization cares about. Maybe productivity as a habit might not be something a peon in the organization is bothered about. Or maybe timely delivery is not something the purchase guy is concerned about. Hence the choice of that one rallying point is extremely important. This is one rallying point behind which everyone in the organization puts his weight and works relentlessly to achieve it.
  2. Believing in the transformation – We need to believe in what we set out to achieve. One should not be looking at developing a keystone habit thinking that it will increase my profits or improve my efficiency. Transformation has to happen for real and has to happen for what we stand for. If it is cleanliness it must be so. We need to really believe that we will and can achieve the real standards of cleanliness we expect. It shouldn’t be a fad which is followed religiously for a few weeks or months and then other things take precedence.
  3. Success lies in routines – In most cases, organizations fail when employees do not know how to deal with a variable in the process or situation. Something that is not a part of their routine, pops up and they do not know how to handle it. Transformation has to build routines, and such strong routines need to be build that the organization knows that when one varying situation comes up, it’s just one variation in the 10 steps they normally take. Since all 9 are into place they feel less anxious about this one aberration and still believe the outcome won’t change. The ability of organizations to maintain their routines even in tough situations will decide their success.
  4. Self disciplined organizations – Organizations mimic the people who work for them and I can vouch that the top management sets the example. An organization which is self regulated and self disciplined has more chance of succeeding when the going gets tough, since the self discipline has already created so many unchanging routines within the organization.

Indeed there is so much more that could be said about winning habits and winning processes but the bottom line is that successful organizations build processes which become a part of their DNA and its extremely difficult to separate them from their winning habits.

Indeed if you would love to know or read more on the above, you can get in touch with me at tislin@infinitiplc.com

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