After 10 years exploring the world, growing through unusual jobs, connecting deeply with strangers, I experienced a cultural shock when I joined a large, old, scientific company. First, I tried to cope. Then, I tried to change a few things. It didn't always work as hoped, but it was definitely instructive.
By Céline Schillinger, Head, Quality Innovation & Engagement, Sanofi Pasteur. Not everyone wants to speak at work. Most people in fact, stay silent. Of course, they don’t necessarily see it this way — they’re busy working, meeting co-workers, suppliers and clients, delivering on projects. Naturally, these activities require them to talk. But what about speaking up? Speaking their mind about processes that aren’t fit for purpose, that are hindrance rather than help? » Read more about: Can we have a voice in the corporate world? »
Q&A with renowned thought leader and international best-selling author Dr John Kotter. Before John Kotter’s seminal business book Leading Change in 1996, ‘change management’ could be described as a niche business term. In the years that followed, it became an entire industry and, in 2011, TIME magazine listed Leading Change as one of the ‘Top 25 Most Influential Business Management Books’ of all time. Leadership and change are topics that Kotter, » Read more about: The clan is weakened, the predator attacks »
Episode Summary Céline Schillinger is a self-described corporate activist, who was called a troublemaker by her bosses. But thanks to her passion to grow and improve on rigid corporate systems, she was awarded Woman of the Year — La Tribune Women’s Awards in 2013. Céline
Creating a common reality, from which people can act together towards a certain goal, is possibly the most arduous challenge faced by corporate communicators today. Major social changes, technological disruptions have profoundly impacted sense-making. What can corporate communicators learn about this new world and evolve their professional practice, to remain relevant and add business value?
Jane Watson accuses HR of "Sloppy Thinking on Culture". This is grossly unfair! CEOs, marketing executives, PR luvvies, business journalists, management consultants, politicians and motivational speakers have all been at it for years too. Ever since the concept emerged in the 1980s, it has been seized upon by those who want it to mean whatever it…
Celine Schillinger's insight:
"... culture is “a pattern of shared basic assumptions”. Because these are unspoken, those who share them don’t realise they are doing so. They just carry on assuming. They only stop assuming when the beliefs they have taken for granted are challenged. Even then, they will cling to these beliefs even in the face of powerful evidence. These assumptions and beliefs underpin the behaviour that produces the unwritten rules, the rituals and the visible artifacts that define the society. Or, in our case, the organisation.
If culture is something an organisation has, then you can just dump it and get a new one. If it is something an organisation is, then changing it means deep surgery (or therapy) for the whole organisation.
Organisations don’t HAVE hierarchical cultures, they ARE hierarchical cultures. The people make up the organisation so it behaves as it does because of the assumptions the people inside it carry. To say culture is something an organisation has externalises it – makes it somehow separate from the people who are part of it"
When we talk about change in the organisation, when we discuss agile, we are often automatically talking about a method. We are referencing an agreed process for bringing change about and for how to work. Perhaps this logical progression from method to outcome is not the reality of many companies. I want to talk instead of change activism, to champion the idea that activists for change are needed and that this activism, the campaign for change, is good for the enterprise. Activists can bring about a different form of agility, one that is infused with a strong sense of humanity with very significant social values attached.
How will organizations evolve in 2017? Will we see a slow, gentle evolution towards more collaboration? Or could change be more radical and brutal? Brexit, Trump... what happened in 2016 in the political arena could very well impact business organizations too.
When Celine Schillinger speaks of employee engagement, she does not mean temporary spurts of fun orchestrated by management. But, she says, engagement for the sake of engagement just keeps people happy so that they don’t claim power.
Exploring ways to use social media in business has brought Céline Schillinger deep into the realms of human purpose. What seems to us like a set of tech-driven, one-dimensional behaviors — posting, commenting, checking in, and otherwise connecting — can signal, for Schillinger, a longing for meaningful action in the world.
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