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JWC is pioneering organizational culture change in NATO

Cover smallIt all started with the anonymous Corporate Culture Profile Survey in January this year, where the JWC staff was invited to submit their observations of what we do well at the JWC and where we could be even better as a transformational entity.

Based on the results of the survey, the initiative continued with an organizational culture workshop for the JWC’s senior leadership in February, which was facilitated by representatives of a leading organizational culture consulting company who also conducted the survey.

Since then the Centre has been working on fostering a high-performance culture and building the kind of learning organization that growth requires.

The initiative taken by the JWC is unique in NATO and it is truly a transformational effort, which is relevant to our mission as we look to the future.  

Mr. Garry Hargreaves, the OPR for the workshop in February, summarized the aim of the initiative as follows: “to capture and baseline our organization’s personality, understand the process of culture-shaping, to acknowledge and nurture the organization traits that are great so that we can purposefully select and shape the ones that might be holding us back from even higher levels of performance.”

JWC's Change Agents

 CA5

The process today involves JWC staff of all ranks and grades. To pursue the transformational efforts and firmly establish the organizational building blocks that will carry the JWC to the future, a network of volunteers, popularly known as the “Change Agents”, were appointed, representing each JWC Division.

Describing the initiative, Mr. David Nauta, one of the six Change Agents, stressed that culture-shaping, building trust and facilitating communication will help us in effecting any change at the JWC to improve overall quality, effectiveness, reliability and delivery of our services.

Mr. Nauta said: “The survey itself and discussions about the organizational culture have provided us with different ways to assess how to influence change at the JWC. Change, however, is hard and you cannot just write about the desired behavior as if it is some kind of a Standard Operating Procedure. Clearly, the leadership should provide the guidance to map out the way ahead, but culture cannot be shaped by them alone. It is an act of partnership. It must resonate within you.”

So far 40 staff members took part in the so-called “unfreezing sessions”, which are innovative and dynamic insight-based sessions, soon to be led by the Change Agents themselves. According to the consulting company, unfreezing utilizes an experimental methodology to create conditions for shifts in thinking and has been proven to provide meaningful and measurable benefits for leaders, teams and organizations.

Mr. Paul Sewell, another Change Agent who has also been one of the instructors of JWC’s NATO-wide Civilian Development Initiative (CDI – which now encompasses the military as well), said: “Having been through one of the unfreezing sessions, I saw a lot of value in the concepts that we were introduced to. It will be interesting and exciting to see how they fit in our military organization as I know there is some scepticism about it. Having said that, the concepts are what I believe to be fundamental ‘operating principles’ for an effective and productive organization. The JWC actually has a unique opportunity as we are the first NATO HQ that this has been introduced to.”

The overall aim is that all JWC staff, by the end of this year, will be able to attend the unfreezing sessions and benefit from a slew of initiatives on organizational culture and transformational change.

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