I’m back in Louisiana for #LASHRM13 to live blog and deliver the closing keynote. My friend Dwane Lay is opening the show. He is looking radiant in a bright red suit, and ready to rock the show. Dwane is a recently published author and  expert in lean HR. he understands how to streamline process, and do things better and cut out unnecessary levels of process. I love his work in this area, which is built on keeping things simple. I’m looking forward to hearing his message on changing cultures. as a pragmatist with personality, i know he will deliver an important message in an entertaining way.he is talking about culture in a process way. This will mesh well with my closing keynote, looking at culture in an emotional way.

Lay opens by stating that people don’t really think about the environment they work in until you change it.  He believes culture is a process, and that you can’t change a culture just by saying something, you can only change it by doing something. This starts by mapping out what you do now, then figure out what you want to feed in to it to bring about the outcome you want.

Culture is built on pillars;

Norms: . The way people are expected to behave, and how they are expected to behave towards others. The basics of workplace behavior haven’t changed much, but the expectation of people has.

Values: What people really believe in. people turn their ire on groups of people, not the individuals. everyone hates lawyers as a collective, but not the individual people who are lawyers, They align groups of people, depts, companies etc that they don’t like.

Symbols: the symbol of a company drives an emotion. it is why companies spend so much on branding. The symbols in a work place drive an emotional reaction. Success of change comes from identifying the right symbols, names of depts, job roles etc. by simply changing a name of a job or dept, you can change the way people think about their position and purpose.

Technology: Culture is impacted not by what the technology is, but how it is used. Lay gave the example of being given a Blackberry in a job when he owned an i-phone. His opinion from day one was that the technology was dated. people become attached to what they use and know. this needs to be considered in change. Too often when you change a  technology, you use it in exactly the same way as the tech you replaced because it didn’t work anymore. You need to consider and communicate why you are changing tech, and go back to the users to plan the difference in to practice.

Language: It’s not about what you say, but how you talk about it, and how you encourage others to talk about it.

Lay talks about the book freakonomics, and the big take away:

“One of the most powerful laws of the universe is the laws of unintended consequences.”

What lay means by that is that you can set the process for change in place, but how people react is very different to what you expected. what you need to do is set change in place, monitor, react and change course as you go along. because there is no way of doing anything other than guessing how people are going to react.

change starts with looking for your leaders and influencers, not by job title but by reality. To change things, you need to identify who has the influence, and concentrate on bringing those people on-board first. If they believe in the change, others will follow. change groups of people by changing the individuals.

Lays steps steps to change the way things are done are:

1) Know thy self. (don’t believe the hype). Know what you are good at and what you are not.) take care of yourself first, and know what is really important to you.

2) Know others as well.. Get to know what makes them tick. their real values and how they think.and their emotional attachments to how things are done now, and how they could be done.

3) Beware the wisdom of the masses. understand what everyone thinks and believes as a group, and how that can work against you.

4) Influence don’t order. When people follow orders, they will comply but they won’t take responsibility for the result. People are wired to follow and obey, and only a few people have the resources to resist authority. compliance does not mean belief or commitment.

5) Protect dissenting voices. you need to encourage open disagreement. People will be talking about the negatives in change anyway, they will just be doing it in private. You need to encourage open talk in order to influence it.

6) Resist peer pressure.Be aware of “group” think, but be willing to do what is right rather than what is popular.

7) Debug your language. When you use language people don’t recognize or hate through connotation, you lose them before you’ve started. do you speak the language of the audience?

8) Practice critical thinking. Always ask lots of questions of everyone involved, and be willing to wait for the  answer. The right answer will not be the immediate answer, that’s a defense.

9) Tip sacred cows.don’t be frightened to question possible change in everything, and ask the questions you are not supposed to ask. the “untouchable” areas and people are the ones you should challenge most, because they will be the catalyst or the barrier to change.

10) Own your own story. You can decide and influence the outputs and the inputs by what you do.

Bonus 11) make sure the change is right for you. if it’s not right for you, it’s not going to happen

Great job Dwane.

Bill