Meeting Management

Reasons for organisational change — Interview with Prof. Vlatka Hlupic

Prof. Vlatka Hlupic explains: What is organisational change - her approach to change management and the five levels of the management shift model.

Prof. Vlatka Hlupic
Vlatka Hlupic
Prof. Vlatka Hlupic

Organisational change refers to the process of growth, decline, and transformation within an organisation. For many companies, change is often demanding as it is both complex and confusing. But it also brings opportunities for growth. 

We invited Prof. Vlatka Hlupic, author and professional speaker, to share her knowledge on organisational change, and on the management shift model that helps map the five levels of corporate culture and change maturity. We specifically asked her to apply her knowledge to the corporate meeting culture. Organisational change can allow companies to overcome the culture of unproductive meetings and reach increased innovation, better engagement, and higher team performance. 

Read on to understand better what is organisational change and the importance of communicating the reasons for organisational change. And the role of leaders in reaching improving corporate meeting management.  

What is organisational change, and how can we use the management shift model to map the five levels of corporate culture and change maturity?

Prof. Hlupic: Leadership plays a vital role in managing change. I have spent many years doing research on leadership practices and learning from these helped me map the five levels of the Management Shift Model.
Before associating these levels to the meeting management, in particular, I'd like to emphasise that in the more traditional management.

  • The first level reflects an Apathetic culture which shows little concern for people. 
  • The second level indicates a Stagnating culture in which people are reluctant to engage. 
  • The third level indicates an orderly culture based on the notion of "command & control". 
  • At level four, the culture is Collaborative, based on transparency and trust. 
  • Level five demonstrates the unbounded culture, which leads to innovation and high performance.

When looking at meetings, in particular, several keywords characterise them.

  • At level one, meeting management looks chaotic. Meetings are unorganised, with people feeling unease and fear. 
  • At level two, meetings seem random or unmanaged. They don’t have clear goals, and people are passive.
  • At level three, we see more structure in management, with organised meetings. Yet, little flexibility for people to contribute and make their voices heard.

The big shift occurs from level three to four.

  • At level four, management is more flexible. Meetings enable more informal discussions; they are goal-oriented and focus on collaboration. Culturally, this leads to increased innovation, better engagement and higher performance.
  • At level five, management is creative. Meetings seem less structured but offer a greater possibility for people to brainstorm and test ideas. This aspect helps teams improve things faster or achieve essential innovations.

Yet, 85% to 90% of organisations operate below level four. While you can have pockets of different levels within the same organisation, there is a dominant level which is determined mainly by the mindset of its leaders.


For a successful execution of organisational change - who or what should change first: leaders, employees or the system? Why?

Prof. Hlupic: Leaders must take the first steps toward change. We need to look at organisations as living organisms and see how everything is interconnected. It is a holistic approach that helps us view the interdependency between individual values, beliefs, mental models and organisational change.

Organisational culture is the reflection of a leader's consciousness. When they influence the company culture, they put their imprint on the behaviours of people.

This, in turn, leads to new behaviours that influence the culture. Everything is interconnected. We pick up the emotions of others around us and emulate their behaviour, and that will, in time, influence organisational culture.


You have experience with various types of leadership practices. Please share with us an example of an organisation whose meeting culture has contributed positively to both leaders' and employees' welfare and productivity. In which way do you believe that particular meeting culture differentiates itself from others?

Prof. Hlupic: I'll share two examples that I've come across while researching for my books.

The first one is from a case study from my book, "Humane Capital". It is about a small-sized media enterprise from Brighton, UK, whose CEO lives in the French Alps. For his team meetings, the CEO flies them in the French Alps to work together in nature. His primary focus is on people's wellbeing, their talents and passions. This type of meeting environment is efficient, and employees come up with the best ideas. 

They have a reward system called a "dream machine". Following the meeting, employees write down his or her dream, whatever it may be, on a piece of paper. Each month, as soon as the team reaches the established targets, they pick up a piece of paper with the dream written on it, and the company pays for somebody's dream to come true. Although costs increased, the company experienced a rapid increase in revenue, thanks to this system and some other initiatives.

The second one refers to another case study published in my other book, "The Management Shift". It presents the significant evolution of an insurance company from the UK, which managed to shift from a level three to a level four model. Diagnostics revealed that there was an information flow issue between management and employees: strategic decisions made in management meetings' was not made available to the rest of the organisation. We worked with the team to design a one-year action plan. The focus was to leverage strengths and address weaknesses in key six areas: Culture, Relationships, Individuals, Strategy, Systems and Resources. 

One of the key pillars of our proposal was a re-organisation of information flow: In the end, the insurance company heard its people's voices and started using digital communication tools to become more transparent. It made people feel more included and engaged.

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, 67% of projects fail through execution. However, if people take part in strategy development, execution will be more successful too. "It's all about people. When we are not heard, we aren’t engaged either" How we meet, communicate, and whether or not we leverage technology to improve information flow, plays an important role in the democratization and change-maturity of a company.


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What are the critical challenges in shifting from a disorganised, arbitrary meeting culture to a structured, collaborative one?

Prof. Hlupic: A key challenge is to spread awareness. The greatest experience of organisational change happens when an organisation moves from a culture recognised by "Command and Control" to a collaborative one - between level three and four in the management shift model. 
Communication in all directions is crucial and links leadership teams with employees. It allows them to connect with and address potential dissatisfaction and demand leaders to ask themselves: Are my employees thriving, or just surviving?

I can generally place the CEO's I work with, in two categories. The ones who are driven to contact me out of inspiration and the ones who are contacting me out of desperation.
The desperation category represents companies on level 1-3 whereas inspired leaders have realised the power and potential of a broader collaboration with employees on all levels. 

They know that in letting go of power, and enabling your employees - That’s where leadership power resides. It fosters a culture of productivity, engagement and proactive employees - Ultimately, more is achieved with less effort. 

What can leaders do to ensure an efficient and engaging meeting culture that motivates colleagues and employees?

Prof. Hlupic: If they have not yet reached level four, then leaders should be willing to go through this significant shift. They should be transparent, seek consensus and allow people's voices to be heard.
They should empower people to make decisions and value their knowledge more than their hierarchical position.  
To prove trust, leaders should delegate responsibilities rather than tasks. In a nutshell, these are some of the recommendations.

In your book, "The Management Shift", you mention that dynamic change occurs in six dimensions: Culture, Relationships, Individuals, Strategy, Systems, and Resources. These 6 dimensions make up the 6 Box Leadership Model. In which dimension are technology and digitalisation included?

Prof. Hlupic: Technology and digitisation appear in the Systems dimension of the 6 Box Leadership Model. This dimension focuses on the alignment between systems and processes, systems vs strategy, the accuracy of the information, and more.


What impact does digitalisation have on meeting management change, and how should leaders prepare themselves for it?

Prof. Hlupic: To get the most out of technology, we need intelligent organisational design. In other words, we need a level four culture. At level three, or below, the flow of information is going one way down in a disempowering and disengaging manner. So, a culture where everybody is interconnected and informed is of the essence. That requires that the distribution of information not only be put into the process but embedded in the corporate culture. That's the only way forward in the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Technology will allow for a more empowering, engaging and innovative two-way communication, and lead to more transparency, cooperative management and a democratisation of the workplaces. It will be possible with the right mindset, the right technology, the right organisational design - all aligned at the right level.

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Prof. Vlatka Hlupic
Vlatka Hlupic
About the author
Prof. Vlatka Hlupic is an international award-winning thought leader and a professional keynote and TEDx speaker.