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How to change corporate culture and employee behavior

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Authors Neil Smith and Patricia O'Connnell (How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things) provide this advice about corporate culture and changing behavior:

  • Corporate culture is an interlocking series of expectations, rituals, and habits maintained by peer influence and rewarding adherence.
  • To change the way people do things, first you must convince them of the value of change.
  • This is done most effectively by showing them the potential rewards for the new behavior.
  • However, since the rewards are often in the future while the pain of change is immediate, the rewards have to be clearly articulated to serve as motivation.

Smith and O'Connell go on to explain that:

  • Given the importance of peer influence, people need to perceive that respected peers are adopting change.

The reason...because according to their cited research:

  • 3 percent of the population tends to be innovators of change
  • 9 percent are early adopters
  • 38 percent are early-majority adopters
  • 38 percent are later-majority adopters
  • 12 percent are laggards

Consequently, culture change should be aimed at the early and later majorities because they are the largest groups and will influence the others.

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