Let’s say you’re driving along in your car, and you want to change your speed. Would you grab hold of the speedo needle and bend it, expecting the car to change speed accordingly?
Of course not. Yet this is how organisations often attempt to change their “culture”. Grab hold of the culture “needle”, bend it and expect the culture to change.
Like the car speedometer, culture is just a visual indicator instrument, a read-only device.
To actually change the speed of the car requires an understanding of how the throttle pedal controls the amount of air/fuel mixture entering the engine, how the engine is connected via the transmission to the wheels, and how the rotational speed of the wheels (minus tyre/road slip) dictates the speed of the vehicle. More simply, an understanding of how one’s right foot on the throttle controls the speed of the car, not the needle on the speedo.
Similarly with organisations, controlling the culture invites an understanding of how changing assumptions and beliefs (gas pedal) changes the culture, not bending the culture “needle”.