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1. Apologies for the misleading topic title. I typically come up with these after I’ve written my post. But today I lead off with writing the title and then went in a different direction as it concerns content when I realized I didn’t have an answer. I like the title too much to change it though so……Full Disclosure up front: I don’t know. 1 So if you are seeking a one-size-fits-all answer here you will not find it (if it even exists).

With that said, I wanted to write about this topic today because of an interesting post I recently read from Ilya Pozin (CEO of greeting card company Open Me) highlighting some of the more unique company perks organizations have implemented to attract and engage talent. As I made my way through the list of perks on his list, I found myself passively asking myself if – setting aside potential value add – each one of the perks could be implemented effectively at an organization similar in size and industry to my own. There were things like:

…An annual all-expenses paid international trip (this certainly could not be done enterprise wide at a big company – it’s more of a start-up perk); flex hours (maybe one day, but probably not practical on a large scale right now due to sector/customer needs); free gym memberships (sure)…

This was a fun exercise, but most of the impractical ones were obviously so because of common-sense business reasons. As I worked through the list, however, I encountered several perks that might succeed or fail largely and/or exclusively on the basis of how the change was introduced:

Video game day (not likely, but more so because generating a high degree of participation might be difficult at a big firm); Unlimited vacation days (this could theoretically work, but if rolled out poorly it could just as easily lead to abuse by a select few and/or else be under-utilized by others because of the potential stigma)…

In some of these cases it turns out that cultural fit challenges would be as high a barrier to implementation as any other factor. This is in many respects all well and good – a change that would have difficulty generating cultural traction in an organization internally is often simultaneously bad for said organization overall… and yet as any seasoned HR person will tell you, good and needed changes are also sometimes painful to implement in the beginning. To this point, many organizations across time have abandoned change efforts not because they weren’t needed, but because the associated growing pains weren’t properly managed. But how should we know when we are dealing with the former versus the latter situation? How do we determine if a change is failing in our organization for fundamentally irreconcilable cultural fit reasons versus just being poorly implemented?

…As I said at the start, I don’t know. There is a lot of literature out there on how to effectively lead a change management effort (get buy-in from leadership at the top down etc.), but not so much on how to know when to forge ahead when faced with adversity.

To those with experience effectively leading large-scale change efforts, how did you know you were on the right track once trouble spots cropped up? And for those that eventually abandoned large change efforts, when did you know you needed to do so?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.