When an organization identifies the change needed and chooses a change process, the next step is to understand the culture and political environment in which the change will occur. There are two aspects to be considered:

- Build on the existing culture when implementing change
- Determine how to transition towards a transformed culture

When there is a discrepancy between the current culture and the objectives of the change, the culture generally prevails.

The following characteristics are crucial for understanding the relationship between culture and the success of a change process:

Culture is composed of the existing beliefs, behaviors, and assumptions
o These serve as a guide to what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior

Culture is shared
o It provides cohesion throughout the organization

Culture is developed over time
o The culture is the product of beliefs, current behaviors, past practices, and assumptions

Culture is nurtured in a self-fulfilling cycle
o It provides a means of understanding strategic decisions, which allows expectations to develop
o Expectations generate thoughts and emotions, which lead to decisions about changes
o Those decisions guide activities that support the culture

Culture needs to be assessed when thinking of implementing major change
o A culture that does not align with the change will prevent successful implementation and should be seriously reevaluated

Support the change
o Assess stakeholder resistance and/or support
o Address gaps
o Ensure clarity of vision and values
o Create understanding
o Build strong alignment between stakeholder attitudes and strategic goals

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