Experience Spotlight

Feb 13. 2021Author: Roy LoBue

Want to Transform Your Culture? You Hold the Keys to Performance and Innovation

It’s a common issue, but one that’s hard to put your finger on.

You notice there is something “off” about your corporate culture.

This issue can make itself known in many ways. You might realize that you are…

  • Presenting a suboptimal brand image and reputation.
  • Operating from value sets that don’t match your ideal state.
  • Experiencing challenges attracting and retaining enough top talent.

However it manifests, the issue itself is clear. You are not building nor leveraging the right corporate culture to drive innovation, performance, and respect for your organization. And because “culture” can be such an amorphous quality, you cannot clearly define how to turn it around.

In this piece, we will examine the challenges organizations often face when they attempt to transform their culture, a more practical approach to overcoming this challenging, and what you can do today to begin to turn things around.

The Challenge of Corporate Culture Transformation

Corporate culture is a tricky thing to correct.

On the one hand, culture pervades and informs everything that occurs in your offices and operations.

On the other hand, culture is not as concrete a thing as a technology stack, a set of playbooks, or an org chart and people strategy.

And when organizations attempt to transform their culture, their strategy reflects this tension. They often deploy a range of ad hoc and disparate adjustments—coming from multiple corners of the organization—that sound good on paper, but which never quite gel into a meaningful change in how the organization looks, feels, and operates.

The result? Cultural transformation initiatives typically fail along one or more of the following vectors:

  • It is unclear who is actually leading, sponsoring, or otherwise taking responsibility for the end-to-end cultural transformation.
  • Everyone agrees the organizational culture needs to change, but sufficient resources are not invested to make that change happen and persist.
  • There are misaligned expectations about how long it takes to establish cultural change and see results, and the organization loses patience with the initiative.
  • The actual on-the-ground employee experience is never captured, so the cultural transformation initiative does not reflect their day-to-day working life.
  • New policies and procedures are initially implemented, but never updated to reflect changing needs and conditions.
  • Governance structures, processes, and roles are never established to make sure any cultural changes created actually “stick”.

Even one of these failure points can prevent a cultural transformation from taking firm shape, and many organizations experience most—if not all—of them.

It’s clear a new approach is required.

A New, Practical Approach to Cultural Transformation

If a disparate, ad hoc, and amorphous approach to cultural transformation typically leads to failure, then we can reverse these qualities to begin to sketch out what a more consistently successful approach must look like.

It must be unified and carefully planned. It must initiate a multifaceted transformation effort. It must fold in and consider the organization’s people, processes, and tools— and not just the leadership team and their high-level vision for their organization.

And instead of centering on fluffy concepts and statements, it must be structured around concrete changes to elements that are typically not considered part-and-parcel to corporate culture, such as:

  • Process Improvement and Automation
  • Role Alignment Mapping
  • Knowledge Management
  • Performance Management

In short: An effective, lasting approach to cultural transformation must take culture out of the amorphous space it is often considered within, and root it within the organization’s day-to-day operations.

By changing how work is actually done in the organization, you will organically and sustainably change your organization’s values, its external perception, and its appeal to high quality talent.

Here’s how you may begin to do make this shift.

Creating a Continuously Improving Organizational Culture

We have been guiding organizations through successful cultural transformations for nearly 40 years. Over that time, we have seen that the traditional “one-and-done” transformation effort rarely delivers results, and that corporate culture is a living thing that must be continuously considered, cared for, and allowed to both evolve and improve over time.

With that in mind, we have developed a top-level approach to cultural transformation that operates in a cycle, and a feedback loop, that produces continuous improvement and alignment.

Here’s what that type of approach to cultural transformation looks like, and how you may begin to apply it within your organization.

  • Map and monitor your environment. Establish a baseline and then maintain an updated model of your work environment that is based around each component’s resource needs, the supporting systems and methods that it requires, and a commitment to ongoing process improvement. Simply establishing and monitoring your work environment around these pillars will begin to drive an organic shift towards performance improvement and innovation within your corporate culture.
  • Remodel your role responsibilities. Seek out inefficiencies in your people strategy, and remove them. Identify and eliminate tasks that don’t add value, standardize and simplify the remaining core routine tasks, and give your employees everything they need to rapidly and sufficiently respond to your customers’ needs. When you remodel your role responsibilities around this functional breakdown, you will automatically reduce much of the “drag” that prevents your best people from feeling they can do their best work.
  • Create new roles and responsibilities as need. When you perform the previous functional breakdowns, you will naturally eliminate roles and responsibilities that you no longer require while simultaneously identifying new competencies, skills, and resources that you must create new job roles and responsibilities to fill within your organization.
  • Reinvestment of freed resources into innovation. At the same time, by creating more efficient operations, you will also free up resources to invest directly into idea generation, concrete continuous improvements, and the type of innovation initiatives that excite, attract, and retain high performing talent.
  • Continuously learn and improve your operations: Finally, you will take everything that you learn through this loop of mapping, monitoring, and improving your operational environment to create knowledge management assets. You can integrate these assets into your new employee onboarding processes, into cross-training of current employees, easily share knowledge across your entire organization, and to better ensure business continuity in the event of uncontrollable and inevitable changes.

Making Cultural Transformation Real in Your Organization

The above process is a counter-intuitive approach to cultural transformation. It operates very differently than most organizational approaches to this task— but it also delivers very different results.

By following this new approach to cultural transformation, we have seen our clients:

  • Identify their actual deep organizational values.
  • Naturally create an authentic corporate image that embodies those values.
  • Shift to a performance and innovation-based culture.
  • Improve the efficiency and productivity of their employees.
  • Define roles and responsibilities with crystal clarity, creating a greater sense of purpose, contribution, and satisfaction within their employees.
  • Reduce turnover and better retain employees— especially high performers.
  • Deliver measurable real results over both the short and long term.

If you seek a meaningful and effective cultural transformation that delivers these results, then consider implementing the above process into your transformation efforts. And if you would like to learn more about this process, how you might bring it to your unique organization, and if LoBue might be of assistance in that endeavor, then contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

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Roy LoBue

Roy has designed, directed, and implemented organization-wide transformations that generate over $100 million in annual savings. He has spent over 15 years working with companies of every size—from small businesses to the Fortune 500—in both domestic and international markets. He has worked directly with senior leadership to design, execute, and drive meaningful results from new strategic solutions that improve quality, controls, productivity, and efficiency.

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