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Culture Insights Blog

The 6 Stages of Organisational Consciousness

Published on 05 Mar 2018

In our 2011 book In Great Company: Unlocking the Secrets of Cultural Transformation, Professor Dexter Dunphy, along with one of our own consultant authors, Corinne Canter, proposed a developmental model of organisational change, which was based on and adapted from Professor Dunphy’s earlier work: Organisational Change and Corporate Sustainability (Dunphy, D., Griffiths, A. and Benn, S., Routledge, London and New York, revised edition 2007).

In this model Dr Dunphy proposed a number of developmental phases in cultural transformation, based on the relationship between leadership commitment, culture and performance.

Organisational Consciousness

When it comes to culture change, what worked for one organisation doesn’t necessarily work for the other. But more importantly, what worked for one worked because that organisation was at a different level of thinking or consciousness than the other.

Put simply, instead of asking an organisation what they are doing now, the more appropriate might well be “what were they doing several years ago when their level of consciousness was at the same level as that of the enquiring organisation?” Where the successfully transformed organisation had achieved a higher plane of individual and collective consciousness, the ‘learner’ had yet to get there.

So what are the six stages of organisational consciousness; 

The first stage – Denial
At this stage there is no awareness or acknowledgement of the role of culture in organisational performance and very little understanding of the importance of leadership.

The second stage – Non-Responsive
At this stage there may be some awareness and perhaps even some acceptance of the role culture may play, but culture is not seen as a significant factor in performance.

The third stage – Compliance
At this stage the impetus and desire is to measure the current culture as information gathering rather than measuring for change.

The fourth stage – Efficiency
At this stage there is a belief in the need for change, but an expectation that change means adapting and modifying what already exists.

The fifth stage – Strategic Proactivity
At this stage the business case for change has been clearly articulated, the organisation is committed to the journey, and change is seen as an on-going process not an event.

The sixth stage – Sustaining
At this stage the case for on-going cultural change is assumed to be integral to the organisation’s on-going commitment to the developing economy and society.

In summary, after having established the framework, the next step is to then examine how organisations transition through the various stages of consciousness and to develop strategies that will work for the different levels.

To read in-depth about the different stages of consciousness and the "where to from here?", click here to read Shaun McCarthy's Whitepaper - Stages of Organisational Consciousness Part I