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Changing Attitudes Leads to Changing Behaviors and Relationships

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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Often, changing attitudes is the first step in changing an organization’s behaviors and relationships as part of surviving and thriving in a rapidly changing industry. I recently spoke with BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier, who is currently shifting his company’s attitudes by rethinking the organization’s strategy, posture, and approach.

BlueSnap is an e-commerce and mobile solutions provider of payment processing capabilities for software publishers (applications), web hosting companies, and online retailers. In this interview excerpt (originally conducted for Forbes), Dangelmaier discusses the e-commerce shift, and how his organization has transformed over the years.

Why does the change to mobile buying matter?

Dangelmaier made it clear that e-commerce is a big deal. He said that $1.2 trillion will be spent online this year. Furthermore, he says, the portion of that taking place on phones/mobile devices is going to grow from six percent to 20 percent over the next couple of years.

As he put it, People buy differently on a phone than they do on a PC. The winners of the mobile buying war will be those who optimize their buying experience for phones.” The game is about capturing the relatively limited real estate on the phone in terms of both branded apps and space on the screen.

This holds true for training and development as well.

How has BlueSnap evolved over the years?

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Like a lot of organizations evolving their culture, Dangelmaier is pivoting off attitude. (See my earlier Forbes article on defining the organization’s attitude). BlueSnap has always been about innovation. Its core capabilities have rested with its extraordinarily intelligent designers, who have had a good feel for entrepreneurs.

Now, BlueSnap needs to build on that base by adding more discipline around the use of metrics, while growing out, and training and developing its marketing and sales functions. It’s still going to win by designing for the future, while servicing its customers’ customers.

But how will BlueSnap get there? According to Dangelmaier, the company will use:

  • strategy: design strengths (primary); marketing, sales and service (secondary)
  • posture: proactive around design
  • approach: driving innovation.

The expectation is that behavior and relationship changes will follow the attitude changes.

How can your organization change its culture?

According to True Value CEO Lyle Heidemann, changing a corporate culture is a five-year effort. He also said that it doesn’t seem to work well to attack behaviors or relationships head on. It’s very hard to evolve values quickly, and generally speaking it is expensive to change the environment. That leaves attitude.

We’ve seen a number of examples of leaders, like Heidemann, successfully pivoting off attitude to evolve the culture. Here are the core steps:

  1. Start with the cause and the why. Get all aligned around your organization’s purpose. Make sure all believe in its import and are committed to a common vision.
  2. Reconfirm where to play choices, within the ever-changing environmental context.
  3. Reconfirm the organization’s core values, trying to change them only if absolutely necessary.
  4. Then adjust leadership’s attitude, relooking at strategic priorities, posture, culture and how they sync.

Once everyone understands the attitudinal choices, relook at relationships and behaviors through that lens, evolving them, their antecedents, and the positive and negative consequences of them as appropriate in line wtih the new attitude.

About the Author

George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his experience as a business leader, consultant, and journalist. He progressed through sales, marketing, and general management roles around the world at companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and J.D. Power’s Power Information Network spin-off as chief executive. Now he is a principal of CEO Connection and managing director of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis.

George is a graduate of Harvard and Wharton (MBA), co-author of four books on onboarding, including The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, and co-author of a weekly column on Forbes.com, The New Leader’s Playbook.

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