Using Symbolic Actions to Signal Changing Expectations

3 September 2019

Are you grappling with the mammoth task of cultural transformation in your organization? Or are you looking at smaller scale changes, but still not feeling you have found just the right approach?
As you capture the last few days of summer, we thought it might be fun to look at tackling this heavy subject with something on the lighter side. In their Leadership & Organization Blog, McKinsey & Company recently had a post entitled Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions. As you might imagine, they describe the successful use of toy elephants by a leadership team to help employees get comfortable with the candid conversations they felt would be necessary to bring about change.
There is a widely held view, and it is reiterated here, that the leaders within an organization should choose a few symbolic actions to signal that cultural expectations are changing. Putting a rubber elephant on the table is that kind of symbolic action – it lets people know that the difficult topic at hand will be tackled, not left unaddressed.
As you consider the use of symbolic actions in your own organization, McKinsey offers three simple steps for you to follow:

  • Define the purpose of and audience for potential symbolic actions.
  • Brainstorm symbolic actions,
  • Review and prioritize ideas.

This article is fun to read, but it also makes some very valuable points. It might be just what you need to get an elephant or two off your boardroom table.
To read the full article, you can go to https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organization-blog/elephant-in-the-room-making-a-culture-transformation-stick-with-symbolic-actions

Related Posts

Building Blocks of Transformation

Building Blocks of Transformation

Have you noticed the level of uncertainty in the market seems to be increasing? Are you finding more and more reasons to be nervous about the future? Do you question whether or not your organization is ready to meet the challenge?

read more
Change Management Lessons That Work

Change Management Lessons That Work

Do you struggle with the fact your well-crafted change initiatives continue to meet with resistance, despite all your best efforts?
Given the volumes of literature on the subject of Change Management, it is clear you are not alone.

read more
Speed – A Critical Competency

Speed – A Critical Competency

Speed is the ultimate weapon in business. It is the defining characteristic that separates the truly few who are competitive from the mass of the mediocre.

read more