The only thing as a manager that you can’t fix is the discovery that you should have started yesterday. Working to create an effective culture is not a realm for the fast follower. Start!
All the Fast Followers
A fast follower mindset dominates much strategic thinking in business. It may not always be explicit, but successful practices are widely followed.
Nobody wants to bear the pain, the effort and the risk of the bleeding edge. Too many of the inventors failed to win the execution challenge. Once a successful approach has been identified it can be rapidly copied. Fast followers compete on execution. Fast following is seen as a safe play with only the danger that you give your competitor a small advantage for the period of time it takes to copy the approach.
You Can’t Fast Follow Culture
Your culture today is different to your competitor’s culture or your role model organisation’s culture. There is a reason you still haven’t caught up to the impact of those GE practices that you are trying to follow (A reminder: Jack Welch retired 14 years ago).
What will be effective in your organisation differs from what works in another company. Experimentation is required to find the ideal set of behaviours for the purpose, people and strategy of your organisation.
Even if a practice could be guaranteed to work, implementation of cultural change takes time. There is no purchase to make, no switch to flick or no announcement that will let you catch up on an advantageous culture as a fast follower.
Culture is an expectation of how interactions happen in the networks of your organisation. Networks are one area where fast follower strategies often fail. People can be reluctant to shift once they have adopted a set of beliefs and built skills in interactions in a network.
You need to do the work to change the expectations of behaviours in your company. That will not happen overnight.
Your Future Competitor has Started.
Somewhere a present or future competitor has started experimenting with new ways of working. Disruption is as much about new ways of working and new models of management as it is about new customer propositions.
The extensive discussion of the future of work means that different organisations are starting to explore better ways of working. People are experimenting with new modes of organisation, practices of management, the leadership of communities, and different ways to learn, collaborate, innovate or solve problems.
These organisations are exploring more effective cultures and modes of achieving higher performance in their team. They know that it will be a long while before you find out what works for them. When you do even knowing what works for them, you will still have to make sense of the change for yourself. There’s a lot of learning to do.
You can’t catch up without learning what works for you & your network, learning how to implement changes and making the new behaviours expected practice in your organisation.
If you are wondering if it is time to start experimenting with new ways of working, then take a closer look at the practices and experiments of the competitors around you. You can’t start yesterday, but you can run an experiment today.