THE BLOG

Closing Open

27/02/2013 17:30 GMT | Updated 28/04/2013 10:12 BST

This may be my final post about 'Open' for The Huffington Post, but the chapter in the genesis of Grey London that began three years ago is far from closed.

For us, this culture change programme is not a passing fad, nor is it the pet project of a few people at the top: it has affected every single Grey London employee. I can't speak for everyone, but I know that most never want to work in any other way again, wherever their careers take them. It's that simple and that powerful. Returning to a dependant, hierarchical culture - in an industry that thrives on ideas, personality and ambition - would be impossible.

Open can give any business that kind of adrenaline shot. Here are the final principles to bear in mind if you feel like taking the medicine yourself.

Don't stop

You've done the hard work. You've thought about change, and made it happen. You've made it visible, breaking down all the physical and virtual barriers that constrained you. Most importantly, as a leader, you've got out of the way and become a mentor rather than a manager, giving your people the freedom to be the best they can be. What next?

Well, first of all, don't stop. Too often, change consists of one-off initiatives that are forgotten by employees and abandoned by management. This means any success you see is short-lived and you end up returning to the old ways of working pretty quickly.

It's easier - but far less rewarding - to preserve the status quo. While Open works, it can be tough going. It's about encouraging ongoing and long-term change within your organisation, which requires constant nurture and collaboration through workshops, training, social events and company-wide challenges to keep succeeding.

We lie awake at night worrying 'what next?' rather than, 'did it work?'

Recognise that change is lumpy

That said, it is important to take stock and track progress. How will you know if Open is working? You need to set ambitious metrics for success and be transparent about what they are. Encourage open and honest feedback and share all the results with everyone.

Open is about decisions, action and continuous change. Coupled with ambitious targets - and full disclosure on progress - comes the very real possibility of failure. If you've fully embraced Open, you will make the wrong decisions from time to time, but as long as you continue to act and make more good decisions than bad, your business will move forward fast. Remember, change isn't linear - it's lumpy.

As General Schwarzkopf once said, "If you've waited until you're more than 70% certain, then you've waited too long."

Make it personal

Finally, you need to acknowledge that while all this business success is wonderful, at the end of the day, people desire personal recognition and satisfaction to work hard and take part.

So, identify your stakeholders and make sure they see the results of your change program as not just being different, but being better. Not better in an abstract or corporate sense, but better for them as individuals.

This applies to everyone you work with, for, and alongside, and you need to be able to articulate exactly how - whether that be personal association with a winning team, potential career development if you're the client who commissions a breakthrough piece of creative, the rewards that come with working for a successful company or even just coming to a nice place to work.

Grey London has never been more successful in its 50-year history and that's down to Open and the people who embody it every day. I hope it's inspired you to take the plunge yourselves and supercharge your business, as we have. Like a rigged game of snakes and ladders, there are ups and downs, but roll the dice and you'll always come out on top.