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  • Kevin Hard

Want to improve your culture? The Hard-Girling Integrated Improvement Model (IIM)

Much has been written about Culture lately and here we argue that a true cultural improvement process or strategy should be aware of the inter-relationships that drive a high performing culture and look to integrate all the functions. Maybe forget your silo’s and pillars and read on.

Nigel Girling, CEO of The National Centre for Strategic Leadership and guru on engagement, states “While much excellent thinking has been undertaken in recent years in the arenas of Engagement, Leadership & Wellbeing, the thinking has often been discrete and partial, with little recognition of the interrelationship between key aspects of the three areas”.

 As part of my CMI leadership qualification I have been challenged to put a model forward for what I think leadership, at all levels, should really mean and what impact leaders have on all areas of a business. My basis for this model is underpinned by David Macleod and Nita Clarke’s 2009 report, Engaging for Success and subsequent research worldwide, along with discussions with academia and business which tended to support the findings that engaged organisations are simply doing better in all areas of the business.

Working closely with Nigel we have developed a holistic Integrated Culture Improvement model. The IIM model brings three key areas together and integrates a number of critical issues in order to drive a coordinated and holistic approach to organisational development, leadership & improvement.

The model describes an integrated framework of three primary conceptual areas:

Leadership – as a driver of engagement, a shaper of culture, an articulator of vision, an embodiment of values and a facilitator of high performance.

Engagement – as a source of commitment and cohesive collaboration, as a recognition of the value and potential contribution of individuals and teams, as an ethos driving organizational behavior and leadership approach and as a key facilitator of productivity, safety and innovation.

Wellbeing – as a source of individual and team engagement & commitment, as a key to unleashing optimum performance and as a key component of sustainable innovation and organizational development.

For those non-engaged organisations there seemed to be some movement back towards ‘pillars’ in the business, which to me smacked of ‘silos’ from twenty years ago when organisations delegated responsibility to different areas of the business. The issues here were that no one was collaborative or innovative as the silos were ‘doing things for them’ so what’s the point?We argue that this is the wrong approach; change is inevitable, and change in any area of the business will impact on all others. Some call this a VUCA  world where Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity are inevitable  …welcome to the 21st century!

We know that collaboration and innovation drive sustainability in organisations. To be collaborative and innovative, neuroscience proves you have to have an engaged organisation where ideas are shared and discussed, where a CEO’s vision is shared and supported by all areas of the business that could and should be involved in some way in that vision. Not to engage with people in all areas of the business means your compelling vision is simply a vision, a mirage if you like.

The logic behind the IIM model is that all three primary conceptual areas should be considered, evaluated and developed as one integrated whole, rather than as the province of different functional areas or as independent initiatives. In this way, the ramifications of changing or developing any one of the three areas can be evaluated, developed or improved only in conjunction with consideration of the impact on the other two areas.

Integrating the three aspects in this way shows that engagement and well-being are both results of enlightened and empowering leadership that sets out to unleash the capabilities and potential of an organization’s people, enabling the development of ideas to drive innovation, enhancing commitment and effectiveness to improve performance, creating a healthy community in a climate that is safe, happy and fulfilled, leading to further increases in innovation, engagement and commitment.

This virtuous circle can only be sustained by the efforts, ethos and behaviours of an engaging leadership team, at all levels, who see their primary purpose as the maintenance and furtherance of all three areas.

As Nigel says, the Hard-Girling Model requires a high-degree of understanding and collaboration between functional areas such as Safety, HR, Learning & Development, Organizational Development, R&D, Quality and operational line management. As such, it requires the sponsorship and commitment of the senior leadership team and particularly the Chief Executive, whose vision must encompass the integration and who must remove barriers between the various functions and integrate goals, targets, performance measures and strategies to facilitate a coherent and cohesive approach to all aspects of the model.



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