Cultural Transformation to a Tea!

Tea

I’m one of those tea drinkers that likes to have my tea in a long tall and transparent glass. There is something quite magical about observing the tealeaves gradually permeate their colour, taste and odour with the boiling clear water. With time, you will observe the tea colour swirling and leaving a distinctive trail in the water, with additional time, the tealeaves will transform the water into a uniform and translucent colour. The degree of tealeaf permeation, or transformation, can be controlled via the immersion duration time in the water.

Let’s take this analogy into the corporate office with respect to cultural transformation.

Many corporate cultures can be viewed like the glass of clear boiling water. To look externally at the glass, it is homogeneous, quite bland, and the only activity appears to be the vapour trail exuding from the top of the glass as a result of the high temperature (100C). However, unless something happens within the glass, the water will cool and the glass will reach a temperature that coincides with the surrounding room temperature. This is the boring corporate culture that is common in so many organizations today.

The key to cultural transformation is the introduction of a catalyst to initiate and drive change. However, prior to its introduction, the business management team need to identify and agree on what their unique and distinctive organizational culture needs to be? Let’s go back to the tea analogy. How will the business culture be defined? What will be its colour, taste, smell and intensity? How long will the process take to be achieved? What catalyst will be used to initiate and drive the cultural transformation? Will the employees, customers and the market like the final taste?

When tealeaves are added to the boiling water, the permeation can be accelerated via movement of the leaves, or the water itself via a stirring action. In other words, some action needs to occur to progress and maintain the transformation.

So when next you are considering the implementation of your next cultural transformation in your office, or if you are currently in the midst of one right now, may I suggest that you consider the following key elements:

1.A transparent glass enables your employees to see the degree of transformation permeation. Don’t hide the process, make it very visible.
2.Is the water hot? Is the corporate environment at the right temperature for the required cultural transformation?
3.What tea will be introduced into the water? What will be the catalyst that you will use to drive the change? What colour, taste, smell do you want to achieve that defines your corporate culture?
4.When should you introduce a spoon into the glass to stir things up a little? What stirring speed is optimum to achieve the desired effect?

Once the desired tea has been achieved, there is no point everyone just looking at it with admiration, make sure that all those involved in the transformation process drink the tea and provide management with feedback so the tea can be tweaked accordingly to maintain the optimum taste and enjoyment!

Don’t relax once you have obtained the targeted cultural transformation, as just like with tea, the organization’s tastes will change over time. Be prepared to continually experiment; maybe add some lemon, some honey, or another tea flavour to add that additional zest!

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3 Comments

  1. brilliant, Steven–like very much. Reminds me of a project I’m supposed to be working on 😉 Haven’t forgotten. You make excellent points. I especially like the transparency bit and knowing when to stir or not.

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  2. I have NO IDEA why I’m even reading your blog, Steven ! This is not meant for one second to be an insult, but merely a reflection of the fact that I’m retired. I’m now a person who spends far too much time in the blogosphere looking for more good blogsites; and it is to my eternal sorrow that I find ’em … because, of course, that means more time gone from writing my next effort … It’s that I like the way your mind works; and although I never had a job in a big corp., I have worked for organizations like the ABC … a thousand years ago.
    I hope you consult with these corp.s – the surely need your input !

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    • Margaret, thanks for the comments. I’m glad you found my blog. You are most welcome to stop and have a read of the various posts….anytime! I would value your thoughts. Cheers, Steve

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