Corporate culture is a set of beliefs, symbols, rituals, narratives and language that that runs through an organization beyond the individuals, physical assets, systems and processes. Peter Drucker argued that it is the most critical aspect of an organization ("culture eats strategy for breakfast"). It emerges organically from the interactions between people and whilst it may be too intangible to be managed, its evolution can be shaped. Influencing corporate culture is one of the key roles of senior leadership. Drawing on a wide range of models, we can work with you to help understand the culture in your organization and help shape it.
In general, the best place to start is to use our generic Organizational Culture Assessment Tool to gain an overview. We can also help you engender more specific types of culture within your organization, as listed below, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Organizational Culture Assessment: This is a set of interviews and an online questionnaire which can provide a high level overview of the culture in your organization, and the sub-cultures within different groups. It draws on an eclectic mix of models and perspectives. Read More
Part of the assessment is an online questionnaire to measure the important dimensions of culture within your organization. It draws on the work of, amongst others, Hofstede and the GLOBE project. The dimensions are:
Important other aspects of the assessment include:
Results are presented at enterprise level. We can drill down into divisions to highlight differences and the emergence of sub-cultures. If the project is part of a culture change process we offer Culture Pulse, which is a more focused, bespoke survey, carried out at repeated intervals with the intention of tracking changes in cultural attitudes and values.
In addition to the Culture Survey we also offer Employee Engagement and Team online questionnaires.
Encouraging a Risk-taking, Entrepreneurial, Pro-innovation Culture: How can you step up a gear from 'business as usual' to create a dynamic, entrepreneurial, pro-innovation culture that is comfortable taking measured risks?
Some organizations may feel they have become overly bureaucratic or moribund. Such organizations are candidates for being replaced by disruptive upstarts.
In addition to gathering data, some examples of levers to create change are:
Encouraging a Financially Sustainable Culture: This refers to financially sustainable as opposed to environmentally sustainable (see below).
In a sense this is the opposite of the style above. A culture which is cavalier with regard to risk and has too short-term a focus can pose a danger to an organization's survival, as seen in the 2008 financial crisis.
We can help instil a culture which finds the right balance between measured risk-taking and prudent decision making.
The stereotype of some financial organizations from the boom in the 2000s was a male-dominated, macho culture with vast rewards and few sanctions. Risky decision-taking, which resulted in unimaginably vast losses, was forgiven with multi-billion bail-outs by Governments. However, subsequent research has show that the 'get-rich-quick' 'greed-is-good' culture was only an aspect of the cultural problems that afflicted investment banks in the 2000s (i.e. the desire to make money was not the main problem). Many firms in sectors other than financial services have suffered from similar cultural issues.
So how do you tone down the risk without removing the entrepreneurial DNA? We can help you shape the culture. In addition to assessments, a small sample of approaches are:
However a thorough appraisal of the current situation is necessary before launching into solutions.
Encouraging a High Performance Culture: A high performance culture focuses on excellence. This means setting exacting standards in products, operations and hiring. Read More
A high-performance organization seeks to excel at all levels. It seeks to create and maintain a brand image of excellence which is both internally focused and projects outward to customers.
We can help you on the journey to build that brand. Key considerations are:
Encouraging a Safety Culture: In certain industries safety is critical. A safety mind-set has to be internalised by all staff. Yet it is possible to ensure compliance with regulations and best practice in order to prevent harm, and at the same time foster innovation and dynamism. Read More
We can help you diagnose the current situation and change the mind-set within your organization. Here is a sample of the approaches:
Encouraging an Inclusive Culture: Despite good intentions too many organizations still embody inequities with respect to gender, race, disability and social class. Often this is implicit and the result of structure and process rather than overt prejudice but it has the same outcome. We can work with you to look at the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which organizations can fail to fully harness the talents of people from disadvantaged groups. Read More
One challenge is whether to focus exclusively on racial equity until significant progress has been made, or to additionally tackle other injustices at the same time e.g. gender, disability, social class etc. Too much focus on one injustice can leave others in place, unaddressed. Too little focus means progress becomes spread too thinly and dissipated. The answer has to be somewhere in between.
The key is to listen to a wide range of people, implement visible action, create an environment where people feel included and safe and communicate success.
We can help you with specific interventions such as:
Encouraging an Environmentally Sustainable Culture: As we transition to a zero-carbon society - how can you accelerate that process within your organization? Read More
Despite Governments making promises about a zero-carbon future by 2050 or 2030, it is possible for organizations to make faster progress towards that goal. Environmental sustainability is about more than reducing CO2 emissions. It is a pro-business mind-set based on efficiency, not wasting resources and not despoiling the natural world. It is about harnessing peoples' enthusiasm as well as changing assumptions. It means carrying out more sustainable processes and designing more sustainable products and services.
A framework we find useful is the Behaviour Change wheel. This is an approach to change management based on a systematic and comprehensive survey of organizational best practice and the academic literature. It describes the full range of potential interventions - from regulations to education and a process for selecting the best intervention for the type of behaviour change required.
A small sample of interventions:
Encouraging a Quality Culture: The ability to ensure customers have faith in your product or service is essential for commercial, public sector and third sector organizations. Over the years, although well established systems and techniques have been developed, ensuring Quality values are lived, by all staff, day to day requires a Quality Culture. Read More
Quality systems, with objectives, policies, documentation, audits etc. are now well understood. We can help you go beyond rule-based compliance and create a genuine quality culture. Just some of the most useful interventions are: