The Surveyorhood Book Report – by Surveyorhood

Team Surveyorhood never stops learning, like all professionals, and this year has been particularly busy with all of us undertaking professional and personal development over and above our CPD requirements.

We read a lot and as a team decided we’d like to share some of what we are reading with you in a regular post. So today’s blog is the first in a series of monthly features we are calling The Surveyorhood Book Report. This isn’t a book club, but if you have suggestions of any non-fictional books we should read or if you want us to post your review of a book you’ve read, please do get in touch we’d love to hear from you!

Up first, Culture Shift – A Practical Guide to Managing Organisational Culture by Kirsty Bashforth. (Published by Bloomsbury) and entered into the Business Book Awards 2020.

Kirsty Bashforth is CEO of QuayFive Ltd and advises other CEO’s on change, organisational culture, and leadership across sectors and the globe.

So this isn’t your typical management and leadership tome. It’s full of practical and experiential advice. It starts with the WHY and moves you through first steps, the hurdles, delivering change and beyond. Because it is so practical it is easy to absorb and therefore is a world away from the multiple academic theories we learn through the Chartered Management Institute or the Institute of Leadership and Management programs we have been studying this past year.

Culture Shift explores what questions to ask, who to involve, and what it takes for the person leading the work to fulfil their role. Founded on behavioural economics it sets out that the human element of organisations don’t always act with rational logic.

We are not Spock (although we absolutely want you to live long and prosper!)

Changing a culture is not about telling or directing. We, the people, don’t fall neatly into line when change comes along, we have to be on the journey with the executives. Identifying where we are now, how decisions are made, what the vision for the future is in order to help us and the leadership form new habits and a sustainable shift in culture top to bottom, bottom to top. As Bashforth says:

It’s not a project with a tidy budget, a start and an end point or a precise return on investment.

Bashforth, 2019

We all talk about values, not everyone lives them, but sustainable organisational change is absolutely about alignment see Chapter 5 Alignment, alignment, alignment – I’ll say that again – alignment.

With culture it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about alignment. Never forget this.

I am often asked, ‘whose culture do you think is the best?’

This is the wrong question.

The real question should be ‘who focuses on their culture as a core driver of performance and aligns their culture best with their strategy to deliver what they need?’. (Though I’ll admit it is less punchy).

Bashforth, 2019

Behavioural economics is interesting area of study incorporating psychology and decision making and US academic Richard Thaler won a noble prize in economics for his pioneering work in this field. Unlike the field of classical economics, or the economics according to Spock, which is based on cold headed logic; behavioural economics allows for the irrational nature of humans.

People don’t behave like spreadsheets or machines.

Bashforth, 2019

Bashforth’s experience makes understanding this very accessible to the reader. It can be messy, unpredictable and not an exact science.

With case studies and at a glance notes throughout you can pick up very practical advice to start using immediately, whatever stage of the change process you may be.

We particularly love the addition of Part 5 Book on a page – a neat summary of all of the key learning which, if you only have 5 minutes, you get what Culture Shift is all about in 8 bite size bullet points.

But seriously, read the book, its incredibly insightful and accessible and will shift your thinking.

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