Marcella Bremer on Changing the Culture of Your Company

Marcella Bremer is a consultant and author based in the Netherlands who has just published a book called "Organizational Culture Change: Unleashing your Organization's Potential in Circles of 10." I had the pleasure of speaking with her via skype and asking her about her work and her book.

Here then is a short interview with Marcella Bremer, followed by more information about her and her book.

What is culture change and why would a company do it?

“Culture change is a label for behavior change. Why would you change behaviors? There are many reasons why. Employee turnover is one symptom. Losing a major account is another. Only a few companies have the visionary leadership to see change far ahead. Most do not change. They wait until they feel the pressure. Until they are standing upon the burning platform. Then they must change, whether they like it or not.”

What mistakes do companies make in this regard?

“75% of Organizational Change programs fail because their approach is too conceptual, too large and too wide. Some companies try to change in a hurry. When an organization is changing, people are stressed and scared. Their focus gets narrow because of fear. To engage people for innovative thinking, it requires an open mind. A relaxed open mind is the best for seeing the possibilities. When employees feel safe and are empowered, they coach one another and good things can happen.”

What are the keys to making culture change work?

“My approach is to keep change small, personal and focused on specific behaviors in peer groups of 10 trusted coworkers. Circles of 10 can change the world.”

Is there a process you recommend for culture change?

“You have to make change a step at a time. I start with behaviors. What behaviors will make a difference? Start with an assessment tool like the OCAI (Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument). It’s easy to understand and will help you get a grip on behaviors. Look at the current behaviors: What do we do today? Then develop a clear picture of the change: What behaviors do we need to change to be successful? It’s like the fish in water doesn’t know that it’s wet. This process generates self-awareness and helps you build consensus on the behaviors.”

What must leaders do?

“Be careful at the outset. Don’t start with big speeches and fanfare. People don’t change because of a big speech. Skip the big talks. The leaders must engage with the change themselves. They must be the change they want in the organization. Being the change is critical. The senior leadership team will be part of the change process too, working together, collaborating rather than competing. When they do this, it sends a consistent and congruent message to the rest of the organization.”

Say more about the small groups?

“I use small support groups –circles of ten— that make change a collective effort. It’s intimate, safe, and more rewarding for the employees, even inspiring. Yes it takes time. But it’s worth it because the people are engaged, they own the change. It creates a favorable environment for the change to happen. They help and support each other. And they hold each other accountable.”

Why did you write this book?

“This is the book I’d like to have read in college and when starting out as a consultant in change and organization development and later on, when I managed our own team.”

About the author:

Marcella Bremer works as a consultant guiding organizational change and personal development. Her motto is: "Develop the workers, the workplace and the world."

She is a Master of Science of Business Administration from Rotterdam School of Management and she helps organizations and consultants diagnose and change culture, so they can utilize culture to create a great place to work in a very pragmatic, hands-on and engaging way.

She’s been using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) for years in a great variety of organizations and she felt it was time to share practical lessons learned and experiences.

To learn more about Marcella and to order the book:

Here is the link to the book

Also check out her Linkedin profile

To learn more, here is her author page at Amazon

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday December 3, 2012


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