What Are the Ways of Changing Organisation Culture?

There’s been a mass change in the way the public sector works. With smaller staff headcounts, emerging technologies and ongoing innovation, we might be seeing a renaissance when it comes to public service methodology. How do you capitalise on these trends? What are the ways of changing organisational culture in a way that enhances the way public services deliver their work?

The Key Tenets for Driving Organisational Culture Change

There are multiple key drivers of organisational change. What you think, achieve and employ are all defined by the environment you create. This environment is based around a number of practices. 

Utilising Emerging Technology

In these modern times, lack of technology can create true barriers to the implementation of successful public services.

We’re seeing more and more organisations implementing emerging technologies. For example, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and even superforecasting are being utilised to speed up public services. They’re providing updated and improved ideas and functions for public services to implement. 

For example, Bristol Culture (the arts arm of Bristol Council) is looking to use artificial intelligence to make their arts collection more accessible. They now have over 200,000 digitised records which lessens publication issues and makes the information more easily-accessed.

Other tech such as public WiFi, 5G and virtual communications systems are making the delivery of public services and the creation of culture change faster and better. By implementing new tech, we’re preparing ourselves for a fully integrated future.

Universalising Digital Upskilling

Upskilling is the main way in which an organisation creates and maintains company-wide buy-in for the use of a new process or technology. Enabling culture change means creating opportunities for employees to grow, learn something new and improve upon their skills. This helps to create a more dynamic, proactive, strong workplace.

Similarly, within the remit of public services, the general public also need to be offered upskilling opportunities. When it comes to digital transformation in particular, the public should be aware of changes to services and provided with the chance to learn about them. 

For example, Digital Cornwall, a programme designed to develop Cornwall’s digital public services offering, is providing classes and workshops to teach people about using technology. 

When you universalise digital upskilling, you create an easier working environment. You also lessen any potential friction between public service organisations and the public they are providing for.

Creating Champions

Champions are the perfect way to get people on board. Positions like these are best suited to those people who know how to implement change and are already behind it. They’re the best at convincing others of the merits of organisational culture change.

Without champions positioned strategically throughout the organisation, especially in the general workforce, it’s easy for change to be implemented but find no impetus - like a car with no fuel. Champions keep people on board when times can get a little tough, providing much-needed support and motivation, as well as gaining front-line feedback from the public on how these changes are improving services for them.

How to Create a Purpose-Led Culture

For organisational change to be successful, buy-in needs to be produced. This means the change needs to be accepted by employees and led by management. By reproducing the behaviours needed for change - namely transparency, accountability and passion - we can endeavour to create a change that is viral.

A good way of doing this is going by what Katzenbach, Von Post and Thomas wrote in 2014, in that organisational culture can be influenced by a ‘heart and mind philosophy’. If culture change can be framed on an emotional level, it can be more successful as emotions are more appealing for employees.

However, an emotional framing needs to be linked to proper business goals and progress reports.

Creating a purpose can be done by focusing on three key practices:

  • Creating an organisational identity by combining the existing cultural customs of your organisation with key drivers of change.
  • Identifying key practices to implement service-wide, practices which can embed change within management practices.
  • Promoting ‘champions’ of change to influence and patrol the change process. 

Purpose involves narrative. Use your overall business goals as key points in a narrative that can engage employees. Because this is as much about improving the working standards of your employees as well as delivering quality public service, it should be seen as a grassroots movement.

While management will be the initial drivers of change, it's the general workforce that makes or break successful transformation.

An Exemplary Case Study for Changing Culture

Culture change has been implemented in many public service organisations. For example, Wigan Council changed the way they’re providing for the community, basing their services on a collaborative approach. In an effort to deal with budget cuts, they created a framework known as ‘The Deal’.

‘The Deal’ is an informal agreement between the citizenry and the council, as they work together to both play a part in creating a better borough. For example, they practise an honest and open culture within their work, encourage more community-led programmes (such as increased recycling) and have lowered council taxes.

The caveat is that over time, community projects are to become self-sustaining, which reduces the financial burden on the council. At this point, it’s helped them save £115 million.

‘The Deal’ required a change in organisational mindset and culture. Usually, organisations view change through finding ways to reduce cost (i.e ‘how can we alter the delivery of our services’). 

On the other hand, Wigan Council began to view things differently - instead of a cost analysis, they asked who were the best people to empower to immediately stimulate change. Obviously, this was a challenge, so they began a cultural change programme to educate and engage all stakeholders to become champions of the Deal.

The digital transformation of public services is new, exciting and risky. It’s only done well with the right mindset, the right people and the right internal company culture in place. You too can discover the best practices of this by clicking the link below.

Changing Cultures In The Public Sector

Culture change within an organisation is, as we’ve said, an important process in these modern times and intrinsically linked to digital transformation. The public sector benefits from proactive, agile, transparent working cultures to deliver their important work. Our guide to cultural transformation is a great way to find the information that starts you on your journey towards a successful culture shift and new digital practices.

Click the link below to download.

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