The Business Case for Investing in Culture


Make culture-work a part of how you run operations

LEADERS HAVE HEARD THAT culture eats strategy for lunch – so we seem to agree it’s important — but do we have a clear definition of culture and more importantly, a process to improve it?

Too often I hear people say; “Once we get the business running smoothly, then we will work on culture”. For culture transformation to be successful it cannot be a one-off event, nor separate from operations. Rather, it needs to be a part of how work gets done, just as Six Sigma, or Lean Process Improvement are viewed as how work gets done in manufacturing.

Most mature organizations have well-developed tool kits for managing the strategic, financial and operational aspects for their organization. But few apply the same rigor to proactively creating culture, often because it is hard to measure and manage. Here is a framework we use when working with companies to help them intentionally designed their culture.

“Culture is how things get done, supported by vision, goals, values and behaviors.”

6 Stages to Culture Transformation:

  1. Evaluate the current state: Where are we now?
  2. Engage change agents: Add the voice and energy from all parts of the company.
  3. Envision the future culture: What will we do and feel like in the future?
  4. Elevate a burning platform: Why is this important, and how do we make culture a part of the business?
  5. Empower people with a roadmap: Cascade the transformation all the way to the community
  6. Excel progress: Review, measure and reinforce.
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“Seeing businesses and organizations as living organisms, creating value for society, taking a multi-stakeholder approach, and developing both shared and individual purpose are central to the next generation business.”

– Mary Beth McEuen, The Maritz Institute