Here’s an example to drive this point home. A governmental payroll department of 100 staff are tasked to implement a shared service payroll function. These individuals are downtrodden, without significant leadership and are often referred to as the “black hole” because an enquiry that went in was often lost forever.
This staff felt unsupported and overworked with many being reduced to taking sick leave. In turn, a business decision was made to implement a new IT system which captured data, streamlined processes, ensured accurate payment of staff and efficient turnaround of customer enquiries. If leadership does not focus on changing the organisational habits of its staff, this new IT system will not deliver the best results possible.
So how do you identify keystone habits in your organisation and how do you change them? First, let’s take a quick look at habits in general and then define keystone habits. Organisational habits are not much different than the habits of individuals. Habits have a cue (trigger), a routine (the habit itself) and a reward. They have both physical and emotional elements. While these smaller habits are critical to address, an organisation can change its culture more efficiently by addressing keystone habits.
A keystone habit is important because it is a habit that creates a trickle down effect and changes many other habits. Keystone habits lead to transformational change within an organisation. So as an organisation looking to make substantial, company-wide changes, it is important to identify and address keystone habits first.
In the second part of our blog post on changing culture by identifying our keystone habits, we will look at a real-world example of how to implement this organisational change strategy. We will break down the steps needed to change an organisational habit and show you how to identify a keystone habit.
Until then, can you think of any business initiatives implemented by your company that would have shown more success and sustainability if you also included a strategy to support changing of organisational habits? Please share your stories, thoughts and comments on keystone habits below.