How to meet the challenge of keeping organizational constants and variables in proper alignment
In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original expectations because of cultural resistance that results from what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” David Gebler agrees (as do I) and notes, “Classical social psychology has always had insights into how to create an effective and high-performing culture. There is plenty of information on this topic but not many strategies for organizing the data so a leader can develop a coherent plan.”
In this book, Gebler offers a workable model of culture that can help his reader to change how people go about their work in the given organization. “I have learned that employees already embody the values needed to create a high-performing culture. Leaders do not have to create a culture. They just need to get out of the way of their people creating one naturally.” This reminds me of what Keith Murnighan has in mind in Do Nothing! How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader when emphatically recommending that leaders literally do less so that others can do more…and do it better as they “learn by doing” rather than by admonition or passive observation. “In other words,” Murnighan suggests, “stop working and start leading.”
Gebler has found that every organization has key levers that managers can use to influence the behaviors that drive culture. “Behaviors associated with three values – commitment, integrity, and transparency – remove the behavior-based roadblocks that keep people from being able to live their values at work. That’s when corporate core values stop being a joke.” Gebler devotes a separate chapter to each of the “power values in Part 2, then explains how to build a “plan for high performance” that are guided and informed, indeed driven by commitment, integrity, and transparency at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise.
These are among the dozens of passages I found to be of greatest interest and value, also listed to suggest the range of subjects covered during the course of the book’s narrative:
o Culture Matters, Behavior and Culture, and Elements of Culture (Pages 7-20)
o We Are Not Who We Think We Are, and, Self Deception (35-43)
o Levels of Awareness, and, The Seven Levels of Awareness (63-79)
o Why Integrity Matters, and, Integrity and Culture (94-100)
o Taking Steps to Instill Integrity (112-116)
o Why Commitments Matter, and, Foundations of Commitment (120-124)
o Creating Connection (128-135)
o Why Transparency Matters (146-151)
o Assess Methods to Process Data (174-181)
o Act: Two Approaches for Implementation (192-196)
In the final chapter, Gebler notes that high-performing organizations have effectively used the capabilities and resources supported by their cultures to meet (if not exceed) tough business objectives. They have “the lowest amount of friction among their core elements, principles, goals, and standards. How do they do it? The only means by which an organization can achieve such alignment is through its employee. That is why it is important to understand the interactions among commitment, integrity, and transparency – the values that keep these core elements in synch (aligned) with each other.” I agree with Gebler that every organization needs to develop an action plan to remove roadblocks after its leaders become aware of the root causes (rather than symptoms) of misalignment.
As I read this final chapter, I was again reminded of one of Charles Darwin’s observation: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” If viewed as organism, an organization (whatever its size or nature nay be) cannot survive unless (a) it sustains its commitment, integrity, and transparency while (b) making certain that its operations are in proper alignment with changing realities to which it must continuously adapt.
No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope of material that David Gebler provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of The 3 Power Values. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to find and develop top global talent that could perhaps be of substantial benefit to their professional development as well as to the success of their own organization.