Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Survey says “Issues of the 21st Century are more complex”. Guest post Walter McFarlane (“Culture eats Strategy” series Part 3)

“Culture eats strategy (change) for breakfast.” True? Are our current organizational cultures up for the strategies of 2011?“. 

Yes, and survey says …

This question was posed on LinkedIn in the Groups “Organizational Change Practitioners” and “Strategic Leadership Forum” back in January and over 600 insightful posts were contributed.  This is the second guest post in a series excerpted with permission from that discussion. 

Walter McFarland is an experienced, consulting executive who believes “The human and organizational performance issues of the 21st Century are more complex–and more important–than ever before.  Building a high performing 21st Century workforce will require fresh perspectives and bold action.”.  His post:

I just wrapped up a research project for Oxford and HEC Paris that looked at one facet of internal Change Leadership. It was a qualitative look but had an interesting sample: 3 Fortune 300 or better organizations and two global not-for-profits. Central question turned on what most influences leaders’ thinking about Change?

You guessed it. Recent experiences with Change in the context of the current organizational culture was first of the lot. In fact, the leaders I interviewed were unable to discuss Change outside the context of their organization. They saw deep understanding of the current culture–and how to function within it–as a key qualification for Change Leaders.

They also frequently spoke about the notion of building a “culture of Change” in order to better align the culture with the new reality of nearly continuous Change. Interestingly, they both loved and feared this notion. On the one hand, such a culture might be faster and more agile in executing Change–hence giving competitive advantage. On the other hand, such a culture might be distracting to core business operations. In their minds focusing too much on Change could threaten viability. They often mused about what an optimum 21st culture might look like.

A common answer–at least to them–involved creating cultures that integrated Change into the culture not as a discrete activity–but as an increasingly routine business activity.

Walter is on LinkedIn here.

If you are interested in creating a “culture of change” – a “nimble” organization (“one that has a sustained ability to quickly and effectively respond to the demands of change while continually delivering high performance”) – check out a few posts from the master of change, Daryl Conner, here.  

And, if you would like to discuss strategy execution approaches we have implemented successfully for other Fortune 100 companies, it would be a pleasure to connect – you can reach me at

Most posts coming on this topic – subscribe above left so you don’t miss any.

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