Last February I wondered if the iconic 1984 Apple Super bowl ad would still feature a woman if it were made today.
There’s been a lot of change since that ad, but for women and people of color much of the pre-2000 progress has regressed.
Fixing that means transforming what-is to what-should-be and management professor and guru Henry Mintzberg offers some of the wisest thoughts I’ve seen on the subject (‘wise’ being very different than ‘smart’).
Transformation requires change — the organization and its culture must transform itself based on a new vision and different core values.
But where to begin? That’s easy: at the “top”. Where else when there’s such pressure. Besides, any chief who has been to a business school or reads the business press knows that it’s all about leadership: the boss who does the thinking that drives everyone else. Louis XIV said “L’état, c’est moi!” Today’s corporate CEO says “The enterprise, that’s me!”
I’m sure we can all think of numerous CEOs who model Louis’ mindset and dozens of them have gone down in the conflagrations they started at the top.
Yesterday’s Golden Oldie revisited Steve Ballmer’s effort to transform Microsoft’s culture by edict. It didn’t work.
Ballmer seemed to channel John Kotter’s eight point approach:
- Establish a sense of urgency.
- Form a powerful guiding coalition.
- Create a vision.
- Communicate the vision.
- Empower others to act on the vision.
- Plan for and create short-term wins.
- Consolidate improvements and produce still more change.
- Institutionalize new approaches.
As Mintzberg points out, this is a top-down, command/control approach that certainly won’t fly well with today’s workforce in spite of being taught at Harvard Business School by a “transformation guru.”
Mintzberg demolishes each point (read his post) and is backed by solid brain science.
…to achieve this result, people throughout the company need to change their behavior and practices, and that can’t happen by simple decree. (…) New behaviors can be put in place, but only by reframing attitudes that are so entrenched that they are almost literally embedded in the physical pathways of employees’ neurons. These beliefs have been reinforced over the years through everyday routines and hundreds of workplace conversations. They all have the same underlying theme: “That’s the way we do things around here.”
The most dynamic, ongoing case study of transformation is being played out publicly at Uber.
It will be interesting to see which approach Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi uses.
Image credit: Howard Hecht