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Leading Cultural Change in Business: The Art of Transformation

Brace yourself for a conversation with a rare blend of academia and entrepreneurship! Dr. Rickard Briggs joins us on the National University Podcast, armed with three decades of experience. We dissect the art of leading cultural change in businesses, the need for collaborative leadership, and the crucial role of empathy in tempering egos. We shine the spotlight on the importance of driving a company's mission and meaningfulness, and the power of shared accountability and inclusion.

Intrigued by the ripple effects of your actions in an organization? We have you covered! We navigate the vast cultural landscape of the corporate world, shedding light on how managerial styles differ across borders, and the impact of cultural diversity within the US on business conduct. We also delve into maintaining the fine balance between preserving the essence of existing culture and incorporating new elements to adapt to the evolving business needs.

As we unravel this journey, we emphasize the critical role of prompt addressal of employee issues, reinforcing their value within the organization. Listen as Dr. Briggs outlines the blueprint for ensuring the sustainability of cultural change in the long run. You'll be riveted as we discuss the importance of communication in change management, and how it can fortify a positive corporate culture. Don't miss out on our engaging conversation about embracing diversity, challenging client expectations, and leveraging individual experiences to bridge cultural gaps!

Show Notes

  • 0:05:55 - Cultural Shift Impact on Business Strategy (106 Seconds)
  • 0:10:15 - Flexible Work Schedules and Remote Work (107 Seconds)
  • 0:20:48 - Navigating Corporate Culture and Taking Ownership (82 Seconds)
  • 0:25:47 - Implementing Power Naps for Increased Productivity (112 Seconds)
  • 0:28:52 - "Clock Roaches" (78 Seconds)
  • 0:36:12 - Promoting Diversity Through Personal Experiences (113 Seconds)
  • 0:42:42 - Fighting Discrimination in Healthcare (71 Seconds)

0:00:01 - Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:10 - Kimberly King

Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today, we are discussing leading people through culture change in business and, according to Forbes magazine, collaborative leadership, tempering our egos with empathy and compassion, driving the mission and meaningfulness of the company, and shared accountability and inclusion are all key strategies. On today's episode, we're talking about leading people through culture change, and joining us is Doctor Rickard Briggs. Dr Briggs is a committed and well-accomplished global entrepreneur and academic with over 30 years of experience in business and academia. He has founded, launched, and developed seven international businesses related to asset management, healthcare, business process management, insurance and consulting, as well as developed international partnerships with companies in North America, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Impressive We welcome you to the podcast, Dr. Briggs. How are you?

0:01:26 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

I'm very well. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

0:01:29 - Kimberly King

Great. Why don't you fill our audience in a little bit on your passion and your mission before we get to today's show topic?

0:01:38 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

I greatly appreciate the introduction and I think I'll segue off of that in the sense that I think that gives you a good foundation as to my background as a scholar, practitioner, and what that basically means is that I do work and then I apply, later applied, the academic aspect of it in order to substantiate the results, which is tremendous. Now, the other thing, too, is I have been an entrepreneur pretty much all of my life and I've worked globally, and that's extremely relevant when we talk about cultural change and how organizations utilize culture in order to facilitate increased revenue at the same time, increased client base. Now, one of the things that I truly enjoy doing is passing on the information that I've acquired at this point to other individuals. My main job now for at National University is the director of the Business, Innovation, Management and Economic Center.

What we do there is the vision of that business center was that we allowed students, faculty and the community to collaborate and to build their businesses in a virtual space.

Now, that's the end vision as a virtual incubator, but the way it's actually panned out is that we have a good number of students, as well as faculty, contacting us on a regular basis, asking specific questions as to their business, and we all know that there's a significant number of businesses and different verticals that are available. So those questions are industry specific, which requires additional research. But what we were able to do is take those questions, find the answers to the solutions, connect them with the right people. But, more importantly, what that does is it helps us build our resource base. We take that information and we put it into a separate section in the business center so that the next time that question is asked we have a link that we can just send to someone. So that's what we're doing right now. And that's what I truly take a lot of care and passion about doing, which is giving people information on how to make their business better or to start a business.

0:03:40 - Kimberly King

Wow, that is so great. And I love how you have applied both from your cultural, your travels and everything that you're doing in the academic world now and really talking about cultural change, and we're really in a shift right now, and so this is perfect. Can you start, can you really talk about and identify, articulate the core values that are currently driving your organization's culture and how these may need to evolve to facilitate cultural change?

0:04:08 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Well, that's a great question And, in essence, what that question is actually asking is what's the status quo of your cultural environment? And each, we all have a baseline. Each organization has a culture, has an environment in which it thrives and it functions, and when that culture is distracted to a degree, the issues arise. So, when we look at the status quo of our cultural core values, what we're ascertaining is how is our organization functioning right now. And what is the culture within that organization? Is it a laid back, you know, kind of Hey, you know, let's get the work done today. Or is it a dictatorial type of environment where it is okay, today, this is what we are doing. And it's going to at nine o'clock and at 10 o'clock and at 11 o'clock And each.

Those are, I would argue, are two ends of the spectrum for the type of organizational structures that we see most consistently today. And then, of course, there's a thousand different verticals within that as to how different cultures operate, and let's use Google as an example, which has a very creative and basically an independent type of culture. They basically say Hey, we want to hire the best and we're going to let you do your job the way it's supposed to be done. That's a very different environment than someone like Dell computers or IBM that have a very regimented process, where the environment and the structure is much more linear, whereas Google is much more nonlinear. Does that help in defining how we evaluate the core essence of what our cultural excuse me, the culture within an organization?

0:05:49 - Kimberly King

Yes, thank you. And I love when you use examples like that. that does it put things in perspective. Next question what are the key indicators that signal to you the necessity for a cultural shift in your organization? And then, how do you envision this transformation impacting your overall business strategy?

0:06:09 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Okay, another great question, so let me put that again. Since you like the examples, let me use a personal example, which is probably the first one that I can recall that had a significant impact on how I understood a culture within an organization, and it was my organization And I won't use the curse word here, but I was a real so-and-so as a leader.

I hear you, it's true, and let me explain how that happened. So I had, originally I had, a very small business And, as an entrepreneur, what most entrepreneurs do and I'll explain this to your general audience too is that we usually start off very small And, as a matter of fact, the majority of businesses in the United States either individually owned or a partnership, so the number of employees for the majority of entrepreneurial endeavors is just one or two. Now, that being said, if the organization is just one or two, well, that means that those one or two individuals share all of the responsibilities, and if it's just one, that means that person's doing everything, everything from sales to cleaning the toilets that person's responsible for. What happens is, if your business explodes really quickly, you don't develop the skills in order to work with people more effectively, efficiently and establish a culture that's consistent with the objectives that your organization envisioned. So what happened with my organization was we grew very quickly. We went from one employee to 75, and six months and by the end of the year, we had 300.

Now, and what had happened? and the corporate culture was terrible. And how do I know that? Because I should have just put a turnstile on my front door. They were leaving quicker that I could hire them, and so I had to sit in my office one day and say well, what's the real problem here? Oh, it's me, I was-

0:08:05 - Kimberly King

You did a self-reflection.

0:08:08 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

I was the boss that was sending off emails at four o'clock in the morning when I got up calling people terrible names because I didn't appreciate the job that they were doing. Yes, and you can see how that would negatively impact the organization or, as we're talking about, the culture, And the culture that I established in that organization to start with was horrific.

0:08:31 - Kimberly King

Oh, my God.

0:08:32 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Because nobody wanted to come to work. So fortunately, we were able to correct and we pivoted, but that was a personal reflection that I take credit for. I went back to school and learned how to lead my organization better and completely changed corporate culture. So there's two points here You can have a very bad corporate culture and then change it to a positive, and one of the things that I learned very quickly was that if people have skin in the game, they're much more willing to work harder, and so, in essence, what I did was immediately started giving ownership through stock to the employees.

Now they had skin in the game, and when I ultimately sold the company back in 2014, the majority of the stock was already owned by the employees, so it was a logical sale to sell it to the employees. So the employees that actually had skin in game now own the company, and so that was it, and I share that story because that was one of the things that was an eye opener for me for corporate culture. When we look at companies today, a lot of the leadership understands that there is a corporate culture and they understand that it can be changed. A lot of them don't want to, and that's where the problem lies.

0:09:51 - Kimberly King

That's so interesting And I really appreciate your transparency in telling that story, because we all need to self-reflect and good for you. Go back to school. And this isn't necessarily on the next question but aren't we in that cultural shift today? Isn't it hard to keep employees working and interested today? I mean that skin in the game is huge, but I keep reading that it's tough to keep employees.

0:10:15 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

It is, and let's put something on the table now, because this is a new area of corporate culture, which is remote working, which is what the catalyst for your question Now I have always encouraged, And one of the things that I did. Now that I think about it, one of the major changes that I made within my organization immediately was that we went from the traditional 9 to 5, where people were coming at 9 to 5, and I immediately changed that to 24-7. And what that meant was that, because we had call centers abroad, we theoretically were open 24 hours, seven days a week. Now the call centers were running, but the real interesting thing here was, I thought to myself well, wait a second, if we theoretically are running 24-7, why don't I give that flexibility to the employees as well and to myself? So immediately I put into place, we eliminated the 9 to 5, and we went to an open and completely voluntary schedule, which meant that I had people coming in at 3 o'clock in the morning and work until 6 so that they could go. So you're going to love this one. It was one of my accountants. She would come in at 3 o'clock in the morning, work for three hours, and she worked on Saturdays and Sundays too, but then her husband would sleep in and then she would get home for 6 o'clock when he got up, and then she was able to take care of her children. So there was this work-life balance that became extremely important, which then let's fast forward to where we are today.

Now this remote learning, granted, has taken off or, excuse me, remote work has taken off primarily based on the result of the pandemic where companies were forced to send their people home And, quite frankly, the biggest revelation from that was the number of jobs that can actually be done from home that don't have to be done in the office. My major concern or issue at this point in time are the number of companies and number of CEOs and presidents that are making decisions without considering the negative effect on the culture by forcing people to come back to work. I can understand their motivation for doing that, and I think it's actually a little bit off base because, quite frankly, we can determine whether or not an individual is doing work either at home or in the office just based on a basic ROI concept What's your return on investment, What's the product that they're delivering? So it's quantifiable whether or not you're at home or at the office.

Now, a lot of CEOs don't see that. They see an empty office, they see they're paying rent for it. And yes, even though you are paying rent and the office is empty, but your staff is at home and they do need a physical place to come into, your numbers haven't changed at all. You're not paying more for them to work at home. So this argument that, oh, we're paying for space that is not being utilized well, yeah, you have to. That's the way it works. And you can't get out of that. And forcing people to and here's where it gets this is, from a psychological perspective, forcing people to do things is not the right way to do it. We want to motivate people to do things. So with the correct motivation, you can actually increase your performance or change your culture so that people feel much more trusted, much more empowered.

0:13:34 - Kimberly King

Good for you and I love that too. That's something that you learned firsthand well before the pandemic there. So really read the room and know who you have working for you and maybe survey or whatnot. So thank you for answering that. Are you? do you consider the desired cultural shift? How do you foresee the role of leadership evolving and guiding and nurturing this transition?

0:13:59 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Okay, and I'm gonna circle back to the answer that I just gave. It is and this has a lot to do, and thank you for bringing out that personal reflection, because that's the point that I'm gonna make now If you're not doing your own temperature check on a regular basis and understanding the actions that you're taking and how they affect the organization, then you're building a problem and it's only gonna get bigger. And this doesn't happen. We talk about leadership, effectuating corporate culture, but, quite frankly, it's the entire organization that creates the culture. Who you hire, who you want working for you. If you hire a group of individuals that are all the same shape, size and color well, you're gonna limit the results that you get, because there's empirical evidence that supports the argument that a diverse group of individuals come up with better answers, so that corporate culture is defined by the people as well.

And a lot of it has to do. And this is very important too, because we, unfortunately, we're in a very polarized situation now as far as the country is concerned, which makes it problematic in the workplace. People don't talk about this as much. If you're in, let's say, an office with 20 people and you're in between a rural and an urban environment. You have a mixture of belief systems, and if there's a conflict in those belief systems whether or not it's political, religious, sexual diversity that's gonna cause problems to your culture. So it's very important to have the entire organization on the same page, which then circles back to the hiring process. Your HR department now becomes the most influential team to create an organization that has a solid and viable corporate culture.

0:15:53 - Kimberly King

Great. That's great advice And, again, your experience just really is, above all, because of the cultures that you've been a part of and the fact that you've self-reflected. So this is great information And your experience. What are some effective strategies you've employed to garner support and commitment from the leadership team in driving a culture change?

0:16:17 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Great, great. So I'm going to talk quickly because this actually has been a very interesting subject for me. One of the things that became very apparent was the variance between cultures when we talk about a corporate environment. So when I started, when I opened up my first center in Delhi, India actually it was Noida, India what I did was two years before I actually got over to the center and started to understand how they functioned in a different culture. Now I was familiar with a number of other organizations and how they worked in, let's say, Europe and a little bit of South America and Central America.

But when I got over to India it was extremely different. The corporate culture in how they operate in comparison to the United States, was an eye opener. Now we both accomplished the same things, but one was much more nonlinear. where it was much more, you know, the vibe was a little bit more laid back and people made decisions on a daily basis, whereas in India, quite frankly, it was much more linear and individuals did what they did and they were. Basically they started work at eight o'clock in the morning. They didn't finish it until six o'clock at night, with two 15 minute breaks and a half an hour for lunch. To me that was outrageous. I was like, oh, you can't treat people like that, but that was the norm, that was their corporate culture. And my position that it was wrong was incorrect. because, again, different culture, different environment, different organization. for me to project how I think it should be done was extremely derogatory and disrespectful to the culture that I was in. And I learned that quickly.

And one of the things that was most evident to me was the variance between the managerial styles from people in India and the United States. Are they different Absolutely? Is it a different culture? Absolutely? Is one right, is one wrong? No, because it's the environment that you're in. So I want to bring that point up too. And oh, I got another good example too. So for the we're on the West Coast right now. I grew up on the East Coast. You can tell by the way I talk blah, blah, blah, blah, just nonstop, nonstop. typical New Yorker. And when I first started soliciting clients on the West Coast, it drove me crazy. I'm like what do you mean? you'll get back to me tomorrow. That won't work.

0:18:51 - Kimberly King

I need an answer now, right, right, and that is such. I mean, people don't think how different our cultures are, just in the United States. But we truly are different animals, aren't we?

0:19:00 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Yes, yes, and that's a very good, good example, And actually thank you for bringing that out, because that's probably the most obvious example that we can give here in the United States. I tried to do it between two countries until I started talking And I was like, oh wait, that's a better one.

0:19:18 - Kimberly King

It's so interesting. I studied communications and international communications when I was in college And I do remember my professor was from Mexico and he would make fun of himself. He said, oh, we take a siesta, we take a long time to think about making, you know, make up our minds. And then it's about you know the food and prepare and just talking about it. And he would always say that I always remember that, now that you know we're talking about this, but the culture, you know, it's truly, maybe because we're so close to Mexico, i don't know, in Southern California maybe we've adopted.

0:19:50 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

I think the answer to your question which I know we kind of went off on a little bit of tangent is that the variance is so great that if a leader is not aware of how their culture is affecting the people within the organization, that's where the problem lies, and I think the one thing that every leader has to take account for and hold themselves responsible for is the health and welfare of their people, who they have working for them.

0:20:19 - Kimberly King

So true, that's so great. And this is such great information for I mean, i think our young kids should be learning all of this as they get older, not wait till college. You know, i mean this is a. These are life information about dealing with cultures And, as we're in this shift right now with the diversity and everything, it's really I don't know when you're writing your book, but I'll be your publicist when that comes out.

0:20:44 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So I have another little example for you which is really interesting. And let's talk a little bit about the younger generation, because one of the things I see when I see this on a semi regular basis, we have individuals. Let's say, let's take an 18 year old, a young man who goes to work at one of the convenience stores. Let's say I don't know if you have them out here. We have Sheets in Western Pennsylvania, I don't whatever, 7/11, let's say I'm sure you have 7/11.

So, young man goes to 7/11. What he doesn't understand is how to navigate corporate culture. He basically will come back and if his boss is a so-and-so, his response is, oh, my boss is a so-and-so, instead of thinking, okay, I understand where he's coming from or I see what he's trying to accomplish. How can I better navigate his personality to make my work experience better? So there is a percentage of ownership that an individual can take to make their work environment better, and that's the biggest ingredient that I see missing is people are very quick to complain about their corporate culture but very slow to take responsibility for changing it.

0:21:52 - Kimberly King

So your story, your personal story, I think is so important to see that you have shifted that and you understand that you really have to read the room and be you know, just be aware of who you're dealing with and also see the long term goals from your boss or the company's outlook.

0:22:11 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

One of the things that I've never been. I'm sure you guys have heard all of this all the time. Oh, what do you do for a living? I'm a consultant.

0:22:19 - Kimberly King

I used to think yeah okay, I’m like, okay, whatever.

0:22:25 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

But in all seriousness, having a third party take a look at your organization's health is a very good thing to do And it doesn't have to be a consultant. It can be a third part, a neutral third party that you bring in to come in to do an organization evaluation And that information is an objective, non-bias look at how your organization's health is working.

0:22:49 - Kimberly King

That's a good, really good point, especially when you own your own companies Absolutely And you don't do it. Yeah, Yeah, I mean we all should self reflect and, just you know, do that anyway. Right? How can an organization leverage its existing strengths and unique attributes while pursuing a comprehensive culture change?

0:23:12 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So they're one and one and the same? There used to be and that's a very good question, and it's an older question because the philosophy was that those items were of their own, each one was their own element and they should be addressed as separately. However, we look and we work within organizations today in a much more holistic manner, where one variable, whether it's the profitability, your gross revenue or your net revenue, is just as important as the welfare and the benefit of the work quality that you're, the work life, work quality that your employees have. So one is one. It needs the other in order to survive, and you've. Quite frankly, in today's environment, you can't have one without the other, or you shouldn't have one without the other.

0:24:03 - Kimberly King

That's a good point, too, that they really that is an older question And so interesting that, yeah, this is something that's happening in 2023 and beyond. How do you plan to maintain the balance between retaining essential elements of your existing culture and the necessity of introducing new cultural facets to meet the changing business environment?

0:24:25 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

That's an exciting question. I think that's consistent with everything that we've talked about. How do you adapt to that? It's a daily endeavor. If you're not taking a look at your organization every single day and saying to yourself what can I do better to help these people thrive? And I'm not just talking about the business success An organization should be geared towards its own success but also the people who work for its success And that type of look when you walk into the office in the morning and you see one of your employees who's not maybe having a bad day, and you go over and you address that issue and you make that person feel better that's as important as selling a client, whatever service or product that you're selling at the end of the day, and that individual is going to come in the next day feeling better about where they work.

0:25:20 - Kimberly King

Recharged and ready to go and help out.

0:25:23 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Yeah, even after work, go home, take time, do what you need to do, be yourself, and then, when you're ready, come back and fix your problem Or do your work.

0:25:35 - Kimberly King

Yeah, we're human right. So I think it's recognizing that and responding to that. So that's a really good point that you're saying this out loud for people. Yeah, we're all just robots.

0:25:47 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

And I'll share a story. I stole this idea actually from Google, quite frankly, but it was an absolutely wonderful inclusion into our organization to help people, and I know that we've all sat there at one o'clock in the afternoon after we've had lunch. we're sitting at the desk and we just can't do it anymore. We're nodding off Right.

Oh my God. You're looking at the clock. You're like, oh my God, four more hours. What the heck am I going to do?

So it happened, but wait, it happened to me on a regular basis. And so I'm like I, being the president, I just got to close my door and I would lay down on my couch and take a power nap. I'm like, well, and I would feel great in 20 minutes, close my eyes, recharge, and I would not offer the rest of the afternoon. I'm like, well, wait a second. You can see the wheels turning. I'm like doodoo, doodoo, doodoo.

And I thought to myself well, wait a second. If I allow the employees to do this, I’m actually going to they're actually going to work harder in the afternoon. Wait, this is a no brainer. So in the employee lounge we actually built a separate little room and we put a couch in there with a little sign that said in out, and I encouraged the employees to go during their lunch hour and take a half an hour, and from 11 o'clock in the morning until almost two o'clock in the afternoon, there was always someone in there taking a little bit of a nap And our work increased and we were able to measure this by 13%.

0:27:12 - Kimberly King

Wow, wow, very good. I love that Again, really looking at the culture and then, and you know, you yourself are reflecting and realizing oh, I’m better for it. So, and this is kind of leads into that next question is what measures are you taking to ensure that the cultural change is sustainable in the long run? which, if you need to take a little nap and get back to it, maybe that has something to do with it, But that does not just represent a short term response to external pressures.

0:27:41 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

There are a large number of tools that can be utilized to quantify whether or not your culture, your, your, the temperature of your organization, is in good health, and it can range from as something as simpler simple as a monetary gain. What's your ROI? Is your? are you valuing your organization based on its profitability? And that's one way. Is it the right way? Maybe not. When you value your organization's health by determining how many people are staying with you and how many people are leaving? Yes, you can, but, quite frankly, without the element of your ROI, it doesn't matter if everyone's staying. If you're not making any money, nobody's going to be there tomorrow.

0:28:22 - Kimberly King

Right, right.

0:28:24 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Are you able to talk to the, to your organization, each department, to contribute to the business strategy, to have a long term plan for corporate culture? And the answer there is yes, and it's a combination of each one of those different organizations to use different tools to gauge how well their, their organizational health is. Personally, one of the, the. the tool that I use most frequently is the employee turnover rate. I have found and one of the things have you ever heard of the term clock roaches?

0:28:57 - Kimberly King

Clock roaches? No, I haven't heard that.

0:29:00 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Okay, so you back in the 50s. It's well, and I'll give you the example here. If you want to value, if you're ever interviewing for a job, go to that organization. Go to that organization at about 10 minutes to five and stand outside. And if it five o'clock the, the five o'clock bell rings. If at five o'clock it opens up and it looks like the kids are being released for summer school, okay, that's not a place you want to work.

0:29:28 - Kimberly King

That's the marathon running out the door, yeah, they want.

0:29:31 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

They want out of that place as soon as physically possible, and that's why I call them clock roaches, because at 4:30, they're starting, they're, they're going to the bathroom, because they want to go to the bathroom on company time, not their own time, and so five o'clock they're out the door. That's their time, whereas if you've built a company with a great corporate culture, they don't see the time. They stay until their responsibilities are complete, and when they're complete they leave. So if they finish at three, bye.

0:29:59 - Kimberly King

Bye, right, right, exactly. I've never heard the term clock roaches, now I do. That means and again, that's funny if you drive by a business and you see that you know not to work there. How do you integrate employee feedback and participation in the process of culture change, and what platforms or mechanisms are in place to facilitate this?

0:30:20 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

If you're not getting feedback from your employees on a daily basis, then your organization is not doing well. Surveys, feedback your managers or your frontline, your frontline information gatherers, and those are the individuals that you need to be speaking to on a regular basis to keep track of how your organization is doing.

0:30:41 - Kimberly King

Good point. Yeah, feedback is going to be everything. This is such great information You've been a joy to listen to. We have to take a quick break, but more in just a moment, so don't go away. We will be right back. And now back to our interview with Doctor Rickard Briggs, and we're talking about leading people through culture change, which is such a relevant topic. So, Dr. Briggs, as a leader, how have you prepared yourself and your team to manage the resistance and uncertainties that often accompany culture change?

0:31:13 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So that's a very that's actually a very good question and it falls into a different category, and but it's very relevant to a culture within an organization. The question that you asked falls into change management, and change management in essence is anything that you do within an organization that is different than it was the day before, and that's kind of a generic way of expressing it. And the biggest failure among with change management is the lack of communication. And so when we and I'll give this example, and change management is not everyone thinks, oh, we're going to change our health care benefits, oh, we need to get feedback on that. That's a very big decision. We have to talk and we'll run this through the processes, we'll get feedback from everyone.

But let's take that sort of macro decision. Let's go, let's micro, let's go down to our employee cafeteria where we have you know, it's a small company, there's 25 people that work there. You've got a little microwave and you've got, you know, your coffee in the morning and you've got a vending machine there, a soda machine. It's a Coke machine, okay. And so leadership decides, or whatever, that they got a better deal on Pepsi, so they switched the soda machine from Coke to Pepsi, but they didn't tell anyone.

Okay, what happens? People are upset. Why are they upset? Because they weren't informed. And even this is where it gets really interesting. There are individuals that really don't have a preference between Coke and Pepsi, but they will voice their concern if you made that decision without consulting them. So that micro decision, or that what you would consider a very small change, happens a hundred times a day. So a hundred times a day, you're telling your employees that they're not important in the decision making process. And those are the important elements of change management and its communication at all levels micro and macro, small and large.

0:33:15 - Kimberly King

Communication is key. That's interesting. How are you planning to measure the success of the culture change initiative and what benchmarks or metrics do you believe are the most indicative of progress?

0:33:28 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So that's a. that's a great question and relatively simple to answer. If you're not, on a regular basis, a surveying and when I say surveying, it doesn't have to be a physical survey. We're not talking survey monkey here. We're talking about talking with your employees. We're talking about getting feedback and having open dialogue as to how everyone feels within the organization. Now, I know that the first thing is well, people don't speak freely and they don't speak truthfully when they're being asked by leadership. Okay, that's indicative of a poor culture. And if that, if that's your response, when someone says you need to talk to your employees, or you need to talk to your employees in a group setting, and your first response is, well, they're not going to be truthful with me.

Okay, that's not a good sign You've got a problem that's bigger than getting feedback from your employees. So understanding how people are feeling and communicating with them is obviously the most important aspect of building a good corporate culture.

0:34:32 - Kimberly King

Yeah, back to that communication and then reading the room. Can you share your approach to embedding culture change into daily routines and operational practices in order to make it a lived experience for all employees?

0:34:46 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So we all we all have processes that we utilize on a daily basis, whether or not it's how we drive to work, whether or not it's the route that we take through Walmart or through Giant Eagle or your local shopping center. We're creatures of habit, and breaking that habit helps identify the areas or holes in your corporate culture. One of the things that I'm a strong advocate of doing is shaking things up a little bit. Okay, hey, so you've been doing this for a while. How about we? you come over here and do this for a while, and how do you feel about that? Would you like to give it a try, because we don't know how it's going to work? And trying new things, experimentation, and with the expectation that it may work, it may not work is how you increase or change and embed new change into or create an environment where people are not afraid of trying new things.

0:35:44 - Kimberly King

You know what, and that also empowers your employees and kind of puts that into their lap a little bit, but it shows that you trust them. So that's a really big key point. How do you plan to incorporate learning and development initiatives in facilitating the culture change And I guess, and what's your strategy for ensuring these programs that they in line with the new cultural ethos?

0:36:10 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

I'll share this example too. So one of the things I taught for a number of years at a university in West Virginia West Virginia is a kind of relatively isolated state in the sense that there's really not a lot of diversity in the state. That's a fact and nobody's going to argue that. So when I went to the school, if I had a class of about 30 students, the majority of them were from that panhandle in West Virginia and most of them had never left their county, let alone the state. But we did have a contingent of international students. So each at the beginning of each term I might have, out of 30 students, I might have five international students, and they were varied. I could have an individual from Kuwait, from India, from France, all over the world, And I never knew where I was getting anyone. And it became very interesting right from day one, from the first class that I ever taught there, The looks that the other students gave to their foreign counterparts was one of curiosity and one of hey, I'm not sure I'm liking this in the sense Not being negative.

Just this doesn't feel right to me. I've never seen anything like it, And that's what it is. It's inexperience, And so that's an opportunity. You can take those individuals and you don't have. You don't put them on the spot and say, well, tell us about Morocco, Tell us about a deli Say. The easiest way to do it is say, hey, Billy. I'll use him as example Billy, what's your daily routine consist of? And Billy explains what he does. Jamal, what's your daily experience? And by integrating everyone's personal experiences, they get to experience what other people are doing, how they're living their lives, And that is the foundation of change.

0:38:00 - Kimberly King

Beautiful. I love that and again, I love your examples. In what ways does your organization's proposed culture change reflect your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion?

0:38:16 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So this is interesting. My parents immigrated from England when I was very young to New York City. I grew up in an environment where we were the little rascals. My group of friends were every shape, size, color, sexual preference, you name it. So I didn't know that there was anything I didn't know. That was my normal, so it wasn't until I went. So when I went to college I did my undergrad out in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which was like right in the middle of the Bible Belt. I suddenly realized, oh, I’m not in Kansas anymore.

0:38:53 - Kimberly King

Right, right.

0:38:55 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

So I thought to myself okay, so this is a different part. What am I going to do? And this is where it gets really interesting, because I'll toot my own horn here, because I thought I can make this work. I've got things to share, and I'm sure they've got things to share with me too, and they did. I learned more from some of those people out there than I had my entire life, and I have friends that I still talk to and communicate with on, and we're polar opposites. But the beauty of it was that we embraced each other's culture and we shared our ideals, values and our work ethic and everything else kind of just fell into place. So one of the things that I'm a strong advocate of doing is sharing your stories with everyone. Those personal stories add more depth to who you are as a person and it adds more depth to the group when you combine those stories.

0:39:47 - Kimberly King

I totally agree with you and I love that. You know, even growing up you didn't even recognize that was normal to you And that's how I think probably a lot of us are. And now in this culture shift it feels like people have to say it out loud when in fact they're actually already living that And so it's more recognizing that. Yeah well, that's how I've been brought up and that's my normal, so I that's great. That sounds like you like that from a young age. Last question Could you elaborate on how the culture change might influence client interactions and how do you plan to manage and put any potential impact on client relationships?

0:40:27 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

OK, yes, and this is. This is an interesting, this is an. This is an interesting question. And sometimes, let's see, I’m trying to think whether or not I should even share this. Yeah, yeah, what the heck. So here's the deal.

So everyone knows the clients are the lifeblood of your organization. Well, consumer customers and clients, let's put it in that, and very, very infrequently we've heard the adage that customers always write, the clients always write. We know that's not true at all, but unfortunately, a lot of business leaders, a lot of managers, that's their position. And that's what they've been. They've been drilled in six ways six days to Sunday and twice on Sunday that the customer is always right. So what happened with me was and I think, going back to some of the stories that I told you earlier, one of the first things that I did when the company exploded was I opened up a call center in Delhi, India, and this was back in the late nineties, early two thousands when it first started and which was still at the in that area, where outsourcing was considered extremely bad. You know, the old, you're stealing American jobs, that that whole thing, and so which is? that's not true, but nonetheless, what happened was we had these individuals in India who my company was.

We did medical billing, so we had Indian agents calling individuals in the United States And if you have and I'm sure you've spoken to your credit card company or whomever and you've had a foreign agent on the phone, and OK, 20 years ago that was the exception, not the norm. Today it's more normal, normalized and it's changed significantly, but back then it was really it was like oh you have, you have a foreigner calling me about my medical bill. You can't do that? Well, yes, we can, and here's the here's. The problem was they kept yelling, we can't understand them, which is completely incorrect, because not only do they actually have a better vocabulary, they're smarter than most agents You can get in the. As a matter of fact, most call agents in India have a minimum of a master's degree.

0:42:42 - Kimberly King

So I'm right.

0:42:44 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Yeah, I know it's bizarre, But here's the thing is. We had a hospital that called me up and said hey, do you have Indians calling our patients? And I said yes, and they fired us. And so, yes, which was? They were bigots, quite frankly. And what happened? And I sued them in federal court for discrimination. I had my corporate counsel file a complaint and they were in West Virginia Hospital. And here's the thing is, I went down there and their billing department was run by two older white ladies. So it had not. But here was my argument at the hospital was I said, well, we don't want Indians calling our patients. And I said, but I'm looking at your list here of cardiovascular surgeons and every one of them is in India. So it's OK, it's OK, they crack up in your breast and heal you, but they can't call you for payment.

0:43:39 - Kimberly King


0:43:41 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Needless to say, we won. But. but the point of that story is the client is not always right. And if you're not, as a leader, going to stand up for your corporate values, then you shouldn't be in business. And that goes back to the very first question you asked, what are your core values and are you willing to stand up for?

0:44:02 - Kimberly King

And that's huge, right. There too, are you willing to stand up for them? in this culture and this day and age, so many people are afraid to say anything for stepping on other people's toes or whatnot. But if you have a very clear mission statement, your values, you know, I think of Chick-fil-A or I think of Nordstrom, and I think those values are very upfront and people understand. You know, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays because of their Christian values. Nordstrom, you know the customer is right, but they have that, they actually value that. Their corporate, you know, speak, that's what they believe in. So their philosophy, thank you, and anyway, so, yeah, I, that's true, it really does have to start. We have to flip the script a little bit.

0:44:43 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

We do. And we have to. One of the things is I mean, we all, we all live by the golden rule. We do, we want to be treated the or people. We treat people the way we want to be treated. And if you, if you keep that in the in the back of your mind, your organization will be successful.

0:45:00 - Kimberly King

Excellent. Wow, this was a great interview with you. And hopefully you'll come back on again. Thank you so much for your time, Doctor Briggs, and if you want more information, you can visit National University's website at, and we look forward to your next visit.

0:45:16 - Doctor Rickard Briggs

Thank you very much.

0:45:20 - Kimberly King

You've been listening to the National University podcast. for updates on future or past guests, visit us at You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.

Show Quotables

"Look at your organization every single day and [say] to yourself, what can I do better to help these people thrive? ...An organization should be geared towards its own success, but also the people who work for its success." - Rickard Briggs Click to Tweet
"If you're not, as a leader, going to stand up for your corporate values, then you shouldn't be in business." - Rickard Briggs Click to Tweet