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Organizational Culture Transformation: Where Should You Start ?

You are initiating a major business transformation that will also require  transforming your culture. But how do you achieve that kind of change in such an intangible aspect? Where do you start? Asking the is a good start. Any transformation that doesn’t also have a strong, appropriate culture is missing a key success factor: emotion.

Take the time to define your target culture

The first step in transforming a culture is to define the target culture. Conduct an exercise with your management committee on clarifying the characteristics of your target culture. Do you want a culture that focuses on clients? On performance? On collaboration? On innovation?

Once you have defined the characteristics of your culture, it is important to understand the characteristics of your current culture in terms of such things as customer focus, collaboration, decision-making, innovation and commitment. Overall, where are the main gaps? Are there particular gaps in certain departments, sites, or regions?

With the gaps identified, the challenge is to prepare a roadmap for how to gradually lead people toward the target culture.

A shift in culture begins with a change in behaviour

How can you close the gaps identified? A first step would be to identify two or three key behaviours that will be noticeable and will have a leveraging effect on other behaviours. For one group, this might mean refusing a deliverable that does not meet quality standards. For another, it might mean being rigorous in documenting and tracking performance indicators. For a department, it may consist of asking internal and external customers specific questions before accepting their request.

To define these behaviours and coax them into practice, hold workshops that allow everyone to take ownership of the characteristics of the target culture, and to define the precise actions they are prepared to take to put that target culture into practice in their part of the business.

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