Recipe for Cultural Revolution

alaurent@govexec.com

Take one bureau or major agency entity, but not the whole agency or department. Avoid politically charged organizations whose stakeholders are deeply at odds. Choose an organization not already bruised by failed change attempts.

Add one or more external threat or crisis, such as the threat of abolishment or a public perception of poor performance or a change in the mission.

Mix with a vision and sustained leadership by a culture manager who is supported up the chain of command.

Season with transformed reinforcing mechanisms--such as appraisal, selection, and budget systems. For example, if you decide teams are the best organizing principle to improve effectiveness, hire and promote managers who can support teams.

Blend in support from organizational subcultures: Coopt resisters with greater involvement and less hierarchy. Subordinate or eliminate professions and subcultures that used to dominate.

Stir up skills and abilities to stiffen supporters' resolve by building an environment that encourages risk-taking and learning.

Measure change in dollops of improved performance. Test customers' and employees' satisfaction temperatures, monitor degrees of improvement using hard data.

Cook for at least five years.

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