Driving the Bus

busA colleague of mine, Charlie Hagan, had a unique scale for assessing professional experience and competence. He would describe someone as either having: driven the bus, ridden on the bus, seen the bus drive by, say "what bus?", or be thrown off or under the bus. I was recently reminded of this scale while talking with a self proclaimed organizational development expert who must have been on different buses from the ones I’ve been riding and driving on my lean sigma journey. Organizational transformation, like oil on water, can live comfortably on the surface of an organization resistant to penetrating the fiber and makeup of the culture. Transformation is a major undertaking that comes at a high price. A positive organizational culture reinforces the core beliefs and behaviors that a leader desires while weakening the values and actions the leader rejects. A negative culture becomes toxic, poisoning the life of the organization and hindering any future potential for growth. When dysfunction is detected and cultural change is needed, a major overhaul is called for. Cultures do not readily adjust. A serious mistake made by many leaders is to try to forcefully change the mindsets of those within an organization. Managers often try to force, rather than lead the change. Organizational transformation imposed on followers first is almost always resisted and resented by the followers. Successful leaders first impose change on themselves and then cultivate it in others. As Charlie would say, "Sometimes you got to drive the bus."




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