Power cables are an important part of laptop usage . . . I am glad that Amazon has great delivery options.  A reprint while I charge my laptop!

A significant amount of transformation and leadership literature centers on establishing or changing the culture centered on values. Instant problem.  According to the Harvard Business Review online article on organizational culture (May 2013)  “there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is.” There are two common threads in the definition of organizational culture; definitions that center on value, and definitions that center on behaviors. Many change leaders espouse value-centric definitions.  This decision causes them to focus their efforts on changing values in order to change the culture. These change programs are immediately starting in a difficult position. Values are amorphous.  Every individual interprets specific values differently.  For example, I asked several friends to define creativity.  Each person had a different definition.  Some of the differences were more than mere nuances.  Our individual interpretations would make the outcome of embracing the value of creativity unpredictable.  The variability of how we interpret values that make it difficult to create a common vision and then elicit a common outcome. Diversity makes this issue even more problematic.   As someone schooled in the need for measurement and feedback, the lack of a clear definition makes monitoring and measuring a change in the values at best difficult and often outside of the expertise of most internal measurement groups.  Without a clear definition and without a mechanism for monitoring change, talking about values is merely window dressing.

While values are important, a better approach for a leader is to focus on behaviors.  Michael Fester in his interview in the Corner Office column in the New York Times of August 6th stated, “Values are ambiguous, behaviors are explicit.”  Define the culture change in terms of how you want people to behave.  How an individual behaves is a direct representation of their interpretation of the values they hold. Most process changes or organizational changes are evidenced by how people behave. Leaders must clearly identify how they want people to behave as a result of any change. The same leaders must act in a manner that supports the change (they need to walk the talk).  Leaders have the further burden of holding others to account for how they behave when it conflicts with how the behaviors needed to support the change.  An organization that wants to promote the value of empowerment must identify the behaviors that define empowerment, execute those behaviors, hold everyone accountable, and measure the results.

Values are the focus of many changes journey. Lofty goals are set for values such as empowerment without a linkage to behaviors.  The lack of linkage to behaviors often leads to failed change efforts.  In the end, leaders must understand that action speaks louder than words. A leader needs to stop talking about values and rather talk about how they want the organization to behave.  Behaviors are a more accurate representation of the values being promoted.