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When the Heat is On

For those of us living in the Southeast, I think we can agree that the last days of July and the first two to three weeks of August tend to be hot, humid and generally miserable. The dog days of summer indeed. Yet, from the sun's perspective the hot days are sorely delayed. The sun reached its peak in the sky and shone for the greatest number of hours at the solstice -- June 21. However, the hottest days of the year did not arrive until more than a month later.

Likewise, the winter solstice arrives on December 21, but the worst of winter does not descend until January or February.

This delay between the sun's "peak performance” and its peak results reminds me of how changing an organization's culture works. The leaders looking to make the change can often do the right things - - build a safe environment, collaboratively promulgate shared values and expectations, and provide important work to do framed by the mission--and not sense the culture changing or moving.

That may be because, much like it takes time between the sun's maximum presence and the dog days of summer, it takes time for cultural change to take root. It is easy to be discouraged by the seemingly glacial pace of change; however meaningful change takes time.

At some point, you may have to decide that your approach did not work, but be sure to give your work time to take effect. The June sun knows August will be hot. It does not panic.


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