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Cultural change - a lesson from having had kids

‍Having kids is a wonderous, amazing experience. They bring us joy, love and happiness. They complete us.

They also wreck out entire way of being! Kids bring about the biggest op model change to how we live. No longer can we get up at 10am on a Saturday. It’s 6am if we are lucky. Sleep – forget it. Just decide on the spur of the moment to pop into town for a meal – nice try. Sex with your partner, or anyone’s partner, or anyone – only if you’re some sort of Ninja. In short, kids mean your old life is dead.

At first this new op model is painful, not just because of the lack of sleep (sweet mercy – I miss my sleep) but because culturally many of us are not ready for it. Pre-kids, our culture was one where we (and our partner) were the centre of the universe and could do what we wanted. Post kid, all change. Post kids we organise ourselves around our children – when we getup, when we eat, how much we plan and schedule each day. Most importantly, we change our culture - the way we think and act. I’m talking about when we choose to sleep rather than party; when we watch what we say and wear; when we choose one job over another (or stick with the current one); when we prioritise investments we previously scoffed at like pensions and life insurance. The culture change is key. Without it, you implement new processes, tools and whatever else you like, but you’ll be mentally rejecting it all. You’ll rebel and stay out for that one extra drink. You’ll say something inappropriate. You prioritise the wrong things. You’ll make it very painful to have children.

So, most parents have to change from a non-parent culture to that of a parent culture.  Those who accept and embrace the culture change do well, and those who don’t typically lead unhappy lives or vacate the ‘I’m a parent’ op model. Some people need to make bigger changes than others, but everyone needs to make some sort of change.

So why am I writing about all of this? Simple – despite most business leaders having gone through the transformational process of becoming a parent, few leaders take this lesson into the workplace. Too many business transformations pay lip service to cultural change. Without this change the transformation will not work. Culture change is key to business transformation. It should be where you start, and should be a priority for any transformation investment. So next time you’re in a transformation planning or status meeting and cultural change comes up, please check where it is on everyone’s priorities because without it things will get very painful.