4 Things Graduation Day Taught Me About Culture Change

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Culture

 

With graduation ceremonies abound, I have really been reminiscing on my high school, college and law school days. My thoughts prompted me to pull out my high school yearbook. I looked over the photos, and I also looked over all of the personal messages my friends wrote. It was a humbling and uplifting experience. My picture was cute and funny at the same time.  

Like many of you, I attended graduation ceremonies and parties. As I stood in the distance looking at the graduating students, one thing struck me about this day and this time of year. It reminded me of the stages of organizational culture change. You might be thinking that this is a far stretch, but bear with me.

 

1. Some Things Never Change.

Just like I still remain friends with some of my friends from high school, college and law school no matter how distant, some elements of culture will always be around no matter how hard we try to move past them. For example, an organization’s history still impacts its future.

Culture is a living thing and we don’t just land on it one day. It is an evolution, a journey toward something better (at least that is the hope). This is also what graduates hope for.

2. Culture Change Is Inevitable.

No matter how hard graduates fight the fact that they growing into adults, they will continue to grow into adults.

The same can be said of culture change. I see this especially in organizations that have been around for a long time and have very seasoned employees. They may fight the change that they are seeing, but it will happen nonetheless. They can either hop on the new bandwagon, or not.

3. It Can Be Painful and Liberating.

I, along with many of you reading this post, shed many tears over this last week witnessing the graduates walking across stage. They grew up in a moment. It was both painful and liberating to watch them. I can assure you, their tears and laughter were conflicted as well.

Culture is very much like this experience. It is exciting for most to think about the direction an organization is choosing to go. Nonetheless, it can be a long painful road. If the vision is clear; the right people are on the bus, and everyone is accountable during the journey, the destination can be liberating.

4. You Will Leave Some People Behind.

I have to admit that I am guilty on this one. At least, I feel guilty on this point. As I look back on the many friends I had and lost after my graduation, I realize that I let some relationships go.

Was it right to walk away from all I had built with my friends to advance to a new phase of my life? I am not completely clear on this.

I do know that I have had a fruitful journey. They contributed to it. I have not looked back much, but I do reflect on what I left behind.

When organizations are venturing to change their culture for any number of reasons, they will leave some people behind. Some people may have been very impacting on the cultural journey. Irrespective, it’s important to reflect on what they brought while also focusing on the journey ahead.

We must march bravely, even with some doubts, into the future we are meant to have.

 

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Thank you for reading this post. This is not an exhaustive look at culture change, but does reflect some of the key emotions. I would be thrilled to hear your lessons learned about Culture Change recently, or other insights you might have because of personal experience. Reply below.

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