I have been working with some of the corporate clients who wanted to tap into Momentum Works’ venture building experience, knowledge about the tech sector, as well as our community/network. Many clients have thus become good friends. 

A large part of these corporate projects involves cultural shift – a topic that has probably produced megatonnes of literature, analysis, and business school case studies. Motivational speakers abound to try to, well, motivate (and inspire) the employees, as part of any major new project or even BAU. 

However, a common challenge with such motivational workshops is, according to almost all my contacts, that they do not last

People feel inspired during the speech, workshop, training or bootcamp. However, after that burst of inspiration they go back to the reality of … work. 

“Everything remains the same,” a participant of such events told me. “After a few times you sort of ask yourself, why do I keep wasting time here, since nothing’s gonna change?”

Even those going to expensive executive courses at business schools sometimes face the same force pulling them down to earth, after the soaring sensation. 

It is frustrating not only for the employee participants but also for the organisers/sponsors in the company, as well as corporate leaders. 

Why is this happening? 

Well, one thing to recognise is that it is human nature. If you have watched Marie Kondo and decided to keep your house as clean as she does – you will realise that it is easy to start but difficult to keep it up. 

I used to think it is because of the fluffy nature of many inspirational talks. However, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, I have been to so many different talks (I have organised a few as well) – I think there is something more to it. 

In fact, inspirational or motivational talks serve as a good way to kick start initiatives, as well as a morale booster when things get tough (which they will). We need to recognise the value of such talks, and also the fact that they alone are NOT enough to drive change. 

A key part of Alibaba’s HR training for any manager is that they must be able to continuously sell their vision and objectives. They made this compulsory because they had recognised that one-time inspiration is NOT enough. 

However, you can’t keep selling people exactly the same thing. Sooner or later, they will get immune to it and your pitch goes no longer effective. 

So what else do you need? 

    1. Hands-on experiences (ask me how) – so you can push yourselves to the boundaries
    2. Constant exposure to real innovations outside the organisation – so you don’t stay in your silo
    3. Role models who champion change, and are relatable – i.e. they walk the talk (not just talk the talk) 
    4. A community of rebels/champions – so that people do not feel alone and afraid 
    5. A mechanism for good projects/initiatives to carry on and good results rewarded 

And most importantly –  change in culture – either in yourself or your company. Such changes need to drive results that are measured and rewarded in a consistent and repeatable way. 

I will elaborate more over the next few weeks. Happy to discuss with anyone about experiences and what we have seen.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].