According to Boston Consulting Group, culture change is not only achievable but entirely feasible within a reasonable amount of time. Any organization can realize its target culture by implementing change based on the answers to four questions:
- What culture do we need?
- What culture do we have and why do we have it?
- What aspects of the organizational context should we change to get the behaviors we seek?
- How do we make the change happen?
What culture do we need?
To determine what culture your organisation needs it is necessary to have a clear purpose, a set of goals and a strategy designed to meet them. The target-setting process involves translating the strategy into the specific capabilities and behaviors required to implement it. The target culture is thus a combination of behaviors related to employee engagement and strategy-specific attributes. Engagement can be described as the degree to which individuals and teams are in accordance with the organisation’s culture. Engaged employees are ambitious, inspired, achievement oriented, accountable, and supportive:
- Ambitious: they set high goals for themselves and the organization, in order to strive to be a leader in its industry.
- Inspired: senior management effectively communicates the vision in a way that employees believe in the organization’s goals and in the intrinsic value of their work.
- Achievement-oriented: they meet or exceed performance requirements despite challenges. Exceptional performance is rewarded; poor performance is not tolerated.
- Accountable: they are held accountable for meeting corporate and individual goals. There is a compelling desire to consistently meet the organization’s milestones.
- Supportive: they mentor and develop direct reports and others. Real value is placed on teaching and mentorship.
The leaders must choose strategy-specific behaviors along the following seven dimensions:
- Structured vs flexible: how specifically are processes and acceptable behaviors defined? How closely are they followed in practice?
- Controlling vs delegating: to what extent is power and decision making concentrated at the top or diffused throughout the organization?
- Cautious vs risk permitting: how much does the organization support risk taking?
- Thinking vs doing: to what degree do people spend time creating ideas or executing them?
- Diplomatic vs direct: how transparent are communications between coworkers & managers?
- Individualistic vs collaborative: to what extent are employees concerned with their own individual performance versus shared goals?
- Internal vs external: to what extent are processes and behaviors oriented toward the outside world versus the internal environment?
Leaders make these choices by translating the organization’s strategy into a set of capabilities and behaviors required to deliver it. The strategy is therefore implemented through the employees’ behaviors in accordance with the mentioned parameters.
What culture do we have and why do we have it?
Culture is mainly determined by the organizational context. Many organizations’ members may be unaware of the effect that the leaders, structure, systems, and incentives have on people as individuals and in teams. It is this organizational context, and not mindsets, that drives and sustains culture. Desired behaviors can emerge spontaneously when the context changes. Mindsets, values, and culture will follow the contextual changes.
Diagnosing culture. To diagnose why you have the culture you have, you need to identify employees’ behaviors and uncover their causes. This can be done by conducting a survey, interviews and focus groups to identify the behaviors that characterize its culture. Then, organizations can clarify whether current behaviors match those that the strategy requires. It is also necessary to find out their underlying reasons, to design the appropriate interventions.
The explanation of this model is to be completed with another upcoming blog post