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What is your greatest challenge trying to affect culture change? (Global Perspectives).

CANADA

Canadian culture comes in a kaleidoscope of colours, shapes and sizes, The term is so broad, it can refer to a company, a community, an ethnic group, a province--or even a nation. Whether we're seeking to shape perception, opinion or behaviour in an internal or external environment, influencing change is a multifaceted challenge. Sustainable results are possible only when all communication is aligned with strategic direction.

In Canada's top-performing organizations, full integration is high on the agenda. Communication is uniquely positioned td have a significant influence on the future of business and of society itself. Sadly, in many organizations the function is still more tactical than strategic.

CLAIRE WATSON, ABC, APR

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

UNITED STATES

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans are coming to grips with a weakened economy, massive layoffs and corporate crime. Add to this the frenzied efforts of many companies and organizations reinventing themselves to better serve the tastes and needs of their customers (such as McDonald's and America Online).

The American work force is braced for change--in society, politics and the economy--but is still not ready to embrace change. Communicators can be the pivotal link, convincing executives and senior management that customers, shareholders, employees, media and the community really want to hear from them now more than ever.

An integrated communication strategy is the only way to reach audiences successfully. Professional communicators' advice and counsel must be trusted, supported and acted on. Culture change begins here.

JOHN G. CLEMONS, ABC, APR

Leesburg, Va., USA

LATIN AMERICA

It becomes evident that when talking about culture change, we are dealing with a whole package of perceptions and fears. This is not a problem that has a "2 + 2 = 4" solution. We are dealing with people, and each person has a unique approach and mindset toward change. Some may be more willing to change. Others are more reluctant.

The only way to do it right is to listen to people: get out of your office, walk around and listen to as many people as you can. That will give you a clear picture of what fears you need to address when communicating change.

Try to dive as deep as you can and to be as objective as possible. If you go out and communicate without doing this, you will just create canned communications that will hardly help in fostering culture change.

MARIA SOLEDAD ECHAGUE

Capital Federal, Argentina

EUROPE

Europe has experienced a tremendous jump from a conglomerate of nations to a nation of conglomerates. While it begins to approach a sense of unity as a region, each individual country is challenged with international, national and local influences that stretch its own cultural fabric.

Attempting to change public behavior that is part of the culture is a slow process. Another difficulty is creating the right balance of the "old and new" perception. The solution is to respect the idiosyncrasies and understand the similarities that help bridge the cultural gaps. Perhaps the greatest challenge is fear of change itself. All of us are afraid of not being part of the future. Communicators need to turn the 'fear factor" into an opportunity for growth: listening, making clear what opportunities exist and streamlining the process toward the future.

ALMUNDENA RODRIGUEZ TARODO

Madrid, Spain

AFRICA

In South Africa, culture change in organisations is currently strongly determined by socio-political environmental indicators as well as internal employee policies and expectations.

Factors such as mergers, Black-empowerment initiatives, employment equity policies and privatisation of state assets are very much core business imperatives at the moment.

Hence the challenge for the communicator is to build the business as well as the human case for these imperatives, define common ground and values for the workers, promote the benefits to external stakeholders and influence attitudes and behaviour in support of the change.

STEPHANIE M. GRIFFITHS

Johannesburg, South Africa

ASIA

The greatest challenge facing communicators in Asia is working within the fast-moving cultural invasion from the West through products, as well as through television--especially MTV--and the Internet. We must assess the impact on traditional communication strategies and adjust them in order to fashion campaigns and programs that will lead to attitude and behavioral changes-- whether to buy a product or support a charity.

On the one hand, the excitement to embrace modernity and join the ever-shrinking world is understandable and laudable. Yet communicators ethically bear a large part of the responsibility for encouraging cultural preservation. It's an important development area. that needs to be observed carefully and directed where possible. It is also a topic that needs open discussion in academe and government circles as well as among communicators.

PENNY POOLE, ABC

Metro Manila, Philippines

AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND

A number of Australian communicators say their biggest culture-change challenges are developing managers' communication skills, tailoring effective messages for employees and maintaining the momentum of change.

One of the biggest roadblocks is words not matching actions-leaders saying one thing and then defaulting to actions that don't support a shift in culture. It's important to link your change program to the organisation's vision and goals.

Good communication during times of change is about completion. Organisations put a lot of energy into the startup process and not enough into keeping the momentum going. The best change initiatives are the ones where communicators work in synergy with the HR department and where the organisation's CEO is committed to the initiative.

BARBARA PALFRAMAN SMITH

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Publication:Communication World
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Words:902
Previous Article:Events.
Next Article:Times have changed? IABC Research Foundation's 'The Velvet Ghetto' study revisited. (Foundation Findings).
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