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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Culture Change takes 18 Minutes and 18 Months


Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it’s getting.

We redesign organizations and teams for results. Redesign is about CHANGE.

  • Change to the ORG: Vision, Mission, Message or Priorities
  • Change to the TEAM: Roles, Seats-on-Bus, Skills, Team
  • Change to the FUNDING APPROACH: Sales Process, Funding Model, etc

It’s become a handy ‘coaching nugget’ to share with leaders that the change they are seeking or leading will take 18 Minutes and 18 Months…

There are things that teams will latch onto immediately (think: 18 minutes). In the For Impact world, these would be the Point of View, Vocabulary or some Nuggets. Teams will start to implement them ad hoc. But it will take a while (think: 18 months) for the team DNA to be the generative force for these actions.

We’ve observed the 18 month phenomenon again and again. It’s a point at which a client says, “I think we finally had some real breakthroughs with our board. It’s like they are coming to the place where we started 18 months ago!” Or, “I no longer feel like I’m trying to correct everything the team does. They get this. I’m just providing strategy and inspiration… they’re taking this (culture change) in directions we never dreamed of!

Of course, there is nothing precise about 18 minutes or 18 months. It’s the idea that this can be immediate AND it’s a journey.

At the start of a campaign we’ll often facilitate an exercise to have a team declare the new culture. This exercise effects immediate change: we get to name the things that will be different! It also creates a vision and it’s important that teams give themselves time to change. Too often we see leaders become frustrated because they think of this ‘change’ as a check mark that wasn’t completed successfully in three or four months.

Nota bene: this is just a ‘helpful frame’. In truth, change is constant and so is the work of leading (change). General Stanley McChrystal says “An organization is no more enduring than the physical conditioning that keeps a soldier fit. An organization must be constantly led, or, if necessary, pushed uphill toward what it must be. Stop pushing and it doesn’t continue, or even rest in place; it rolls backward.