May 4, 2017

Project Management Office Meeting Recap: From Worst to First: The Cultural Change Journey

According to, culture is “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” Whether it’s good or bad, culture exists within every organization and can greatly impact and influence the way employees go about their day-to-day work. Even though it may be hard to believe, culture within an organization is not set-in-stone, and, although difficult, leaders do have the ability to change it. At last week’s Project Management Office group meeting, Justin Elgard, IT Director at Express Scripts, shed some light on The Cultural Change Journey and shared some personal experiences on how culture can indeed change.

Everyone handles change differently and it is important to recognize this when making a big cultural overhaul. Below are four key stages that individuals will go through during this journey. Remember, people will enter and leave these stages at different times so be patient because change is hard!

1. Awareness

  • Employees will start to gain awareness of the change, but they will often be in denial and think things such as “They won’t actually do it”.


2. Understanding

  • Individuals may experience anger and depression during this stage because they feel that no one will listen to them or answer their questions. It is important that you take the time to help others understand the “why” because if they don’t understand, they won’t accept the change.


3. Adoption

  • During this stage, individuals will explore what the future will look like with this change in place. Once they explore the possibilities and see how it will positively impact them, they will begin to accept the change.


4. Sustaining

  • This new culture becomes the norm and individuals will sustain it!


In order to successfully change the culture of an organization, you need change agents! These are individuals who effectively promote and implement the change. At the meeting, Justin broke the group into small teams and each team was challenged with the task of drawing the perfect change agent. Across the board every group had similar answers to what their description of the perfect change agent, here are a few characteristics:

  • Good listener
  • Patient, yet persistent
  • Champion of the vision
  • Leads by example
  • Trustworthy
  • Team-oriented
  • Supportive
  • Fosters collaboration
  • Committed


So, if your organization is going through a cultural overhaul, be and identify the perfect change agent to help your team adjust and accept the change!

What other characteristics have you seen in a good change agent?

Posted by: Rachael Gaffney

Tags:  Meeting Recap, Project Management Office, Cultural Change

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