Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Cofounder at

How do you change a culture of chaos to one that adopts systematic processes?

If a growth company is dependent on systems and processes, where does one start in turning a company's culture around? How do you enforce change?

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

You must set an example from the top down. You must also be persistent, the longer it has been the way it is, the longer it may take to change directions (people are mostly adverse to change).

Also, the shift in culture cannot be just grand speech/language, it must be visible action (even if in small steps).

What is a good catalyst for accelerating the process? Give your employees/teammates the "Why" behind the change and the goal for the changed outcomes. How will it improve the company? How will it benefit each employee?

Each change should have deep meaning to your specific business (do not try to steal a great company culture from another venture). What works at one business will not necessarily work at all businesses.

Another great way to get higher acceptance is to ask your team members and employees what they would like to see change about their roles and the company and why. If you let everyone (in large or small ways) have some ownership into impacting the culture they will feel less adverse to adapting to something new.

Ensure that all new employees are vetted against your new culture values, but use them as guidelines. There are unfortunately too many ventures that go wild with their own hype to the point where it seems like they have been drinking their own kool-aid (for far too long). If that metaphor doesn't translate well, basically they've bought into their own hype too much and have started ignoring reality. You need to balance between turning the rudder toward the new and improved culture but keeping a keen eye on the realities of day to day change.

Shannon Young

Shannon Young, Coach - Accelerator of People's Performance at The Care Factor

I agree with Jeff regarding leadership as key to culture change. I specialised in culture change for 8 years and that was the key.

Additions to realise are that people people need to let go of the old way of doing things. I agree with Jeff that this is where understanding WHY the change is happening is key. People need a reason to change. Overall connect the change to a purpose that means something to everyone - communicate this in a way everyone understands and gets WIIFM (whats in it for me)

Remember that you can change all the systems you want but unless you get the people to transition (that internal change within themselves), they will always find a way to do things the way they have always been done. People tend to run in "transition deficit" and so are on or two steps behind the actual change that you are implementing.

A way to get them to buy in to the change is involvement (agree with Jeff again) as people want some control during this uncertain chaos of change itself and gaining input is a way to do so. A large insurance company took a huge gamble in a change program a few years ago and opened up their entire organisational structure for feedback from ALL of their staff. That is a huge show of trust and belief in their people and this brought them on the journey.

and communicate, communicate, communicate. I tell you, you cannot over communicate in times of change. Once you stop communicating people will fill in the blanks themselves and that can be really scary.