"Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got."

So said the business guru to business gurus, the late Peter Drucker. When I saw this quote flash by on Twitter the other day, it hit me that this is the essence of my green jujitsu approach to culture behavioural change.

Green jujitsu evolved out of my realisation that the best way to engage employees of an engineering company was to frame the problem as an engineering one, in a manufacturing business as an production issue, with the creative industries as a design problem and so on. That is, working with the prevalent culture rather than trying to turn everybody into tree huggers.

There are exceptions of course. Ray Anderson changed the culture at Interface to make sustainability the company culture through determination, business nous and no little charm. Stuart Rose of Marks & Spencer was successful in creating Plan A and driving it through the organisation. So it is possible, but it is a high-risk/high-reward approach and requires a real crusader at the top willing to stake his/her reputation on it. And there aren't that many of them about, frankly.

For most organisations, Drucker's point is a good starting point - work with the existing culture, not against it.

Photo: The Drucker Institute, Claremont Graduate University

My new eBook, Green Jujitsu, is now available from Dõ Sustainability.

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