Focusing on a “critical few” behaviors is one of the fundamental tenets of working effectively with organizational culture. Sometimes called keystone behaviors, these are patterns of acting that are tangible, repeatable, observable, and measurable, and will contribute to achieving an organization’s strategic and operational objectives. The behaviors are critical because they will have a significant impact on business performance when exhibited by large numbers of people; they are few because people can really only remember and change three to five key behaviors at one time….…. Not all our business problems can be solved through such simple actions. But defining and selecting the critical few behaviors is an important first step. And rather than repeatedly asking the simple question, “Why?” you can get there by following a four-step processKnow what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s vital to identify the area or issue in which you are trying to make a difference. For an organization, this often means aligning with the strategic priorities or, sometimes, the goals of a critical enterprise-wide transformation effort.Define the behaviors that will contribute to the goals. A behavior is a habitual way of acting that is considered the norm or expectation — it is not a one-time action, a policy change, an outcome, or a mind-set/attitude.Prioritize the critical few behaviors. A common way to do this is to plot the behaviors using the axes of implementation and impact.
Implementation criteria include:
- Actionability: Are people able to perform the behavior?
- Degree of visibility: Can people see others performing the behavior?
- Measurability: Can you measure (preferably objectively) whether people are performing the behavior?
- Speed of results: Can people performing the behavior deliver results in the short term?
- Ease of implementation: Given the current organizational environment, how easy/difficult will it be for people to perform the new behavior?Validate your choices by getting input from both formal and informal leaders. You might consider using a voting process — it could be an electronic voting tool or something as old-school as a show of hands — to gather formal leaders’ views and prioritize down to the critical few.