Culture change is hard, that's why few organisations take it on. There's a reliance on new people coming in to an organisation to drive change in a way that hasn't been seen before and yet all too often those people will come up against brick walls.
Two years later, these people are gone and at their farewell speech, they'll be told by countless people that 'you're too good for this place' or 'we knew you'd get frustrated here'.
In Australia only 24 per cent of staff were found to be engaged in their work, with 16 per cent being actively disengaged, according to a 2013 workplace report.
The remaining 60 per cent don't care either way, but will likely see their job as a means to an end. Organisations such as Atlassian, Google, Zappos and Apple are frequently held up as examples of great working cultures with high staff engagement, yet there is nothing stopping any organisation from creating something similar. Nothing that is, except for the values and behaviours of those who have the opportunity make a difference.
Can a government organisation have staff engagement similar to Atlassian?
Dedicated public servants will tell you 'no' because of financial constraints, a lack of innovation, no real vision, a lack of prioritisation, complexity of process, or poor hiring policies.
However in my experience it's down to the fact that it's just seen as being too hard. Too hard to make it easy to do things; too hard to manage poor performance; too hard to influence senior management; and too hard to make the time for innovation.
Everybody is busy, so the culture can wait. And yet, with executive support and a good plan of action, you can incrementally change the way you do things for the better.
So how can your projects help you change your culture? Projects are unique pieces of work that exist for relatively short periods of time, demand different ways of working and involve people from disparate teams (and sometimes locations) across the organisation.
Given their difference to business as usual, they are a perfect place to instill new behaviours, try out different ideas or provide teams with the time and support to innovate.
All of the ingredients required to change your culture can be addressed through the normal course of business, however if you're struggling to get started, then your projects could be a perfect place to start.
Here are some things you need to consider before you roll out new projects across your enterprise.
The best projects, and the best organisations, have strong leaders. People who are champions for change, authentic, fearless, loyal, fun and great at creating teams who collectively want to succeed. They take their work seriously, but not themselves and they are the future of your organisation.
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