Culture Before Strategy

In an insightful article, Ken Majer (full disclosure, a boss of mine many years ago) has written about the need to have the right culture before executing strategy.  And this strikes me as a valuable contribution to thinking about effective change in the transformation of L&D in the Revolution.

I have argued that you can get some benefits from the Revolution without having an optimized culture, but you’re not going to tap into the full potential. Revising formal learning to be truly effective by aligning to how we learn, adding in performance support in ways that augment our cognitive limitations, etc, are all going to offer useful outcomes. I think the optimal execution stuff will benefit, but  the ability to truly tap into the network for the continual innovation requires making it safe and meaningful to share. If it’s not safe to Show Your Work, you can’t capitalize on the benefits.

What Ken is talking about here is ensuring you have values and culture in alignment with the vision and mission.  And I’ll go further and say that in the long term, those values have to be about valuing people and the culture has to be about working and learning together effectively.  I think that’s the ultimate goal when you really want to succeed: we know that people perform best when given meaningful work and are empowered to pursue it.

It’s not easy, for sure.  You need to get explicit about your values and how those manifest in how you work. You’ll likely find that some of the implicit values are a barrier, and they’ll require conscious work to address. The change in approach on the part of management and executives and the organizational restructuring that can accompany this new way of working isn’t going to happen overnight, and change is hard.  But it is increasingly, and will be, a business necessity.

So too for the move to a new L&D. You can start working in these ways within your organization, and grow it.  And you should. It’s part of the path, the roadmap, to the revolution.  I’m working on more bits of it, trying to pull it together more concretely, but it’s clear to me that one thread (and as already indicated in the diagrams that accompany the book) is indeed a path to a more enabling culture. In the long term, it will be uplifting, and it’s worth getting started on now.

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