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Breadcrumbs for Change

Updated: Oct 10, 2018

In the corporate world change often comes via big public announcements – we have merged, we have taken over, we have a new CEO, and quite often those announcements can have immediate and significant affects for all colleagues. Sometimes big corporate announcements lead to very little change on the ground in terms of corporate culture. This is quite often the case in terms of actions to improve sustainability, diversity and inclusion (D&I), colleague engagement and manger support. The driver for the corporate action could have the best intentions behind it but if there is no capacity, HR or corporate, to make the changes required to really ‘live’ the desired action then the action announced becomes meaningless and can also have the effect of further alienating colleagues. I recently listen to a great podcast on The Juggle, an Australian focused blog aimed at mainly working mothers. The blog highlighted a great approach taken by the head of HR of Monadelphous, an Australian mining company. The approach to building up and determining their D&I policy has been one of ‘breadcrumbs for change’. The idea is that small changes can lead to a much larger change in culture than simply one big announcement, and crucially you are able to on the way build and test your corporate culture around the issues you are hoping to improve. Only after two years did they then determine their D&I policy and culture.

This lead me to thinking about how this process of ‘breadcrumbing’ change could work for those organisations struggle with determining their flexibility culture, and also more importantly making sure that the culture developed is then taken on by their colleagues. Often company want a big announcement to hang their hats on but sometimes trialing something smaller can be far more successful. For example a small scale trial of locational flexibility at a specific office can lead to identification of best practice to then implement elsewhere, but it also allows colleagues to feed back into the process in a manageable way. The ‘breadcrumbing’ also allows for manageable failures. While innovation may be the catchword of this generation the reality is that many company are afraid of failure which then inhibits any meaningful innovation. By creating smaller trials you are able to then support much wider innovation at a much lower cost, and importantly any impact of the failure is minimized. So next time your are thinking of undertaking meaningful corporate culture change look no further than some breadcrumbs…..

All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.


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