Aligning Culture & Strategy to Address the Threat of Disruptive Change
Media & Entertainment
To remain in its competition position, this Fortune 100 company cares deeply about the way its culture operates to support agility, creativity, collaboration, engagement and productivity. It faces disruptive external change and worries about the risk that culture dynamics will undermine its reputation, brand and strategy. With multiple independent divisions in locations across the globe, it wanted a new kind of culture survey that would help leaders and their teams learn more about their units’ culture strengths, the way these support strategic imperatives and potentially get in the way, as well as culture development needs to support innovation and growth.
The objective was to help each senior leader and team understand the way the culture was operating and what needed attention across the Division as well as within operating units. To that end, reports were provided at the Division, Group, as well as Regional level. Head Office, including the Global Functions, also received a complement of reports. Given Enterprise strategy, we then consolidated results for the Executive Team and the Board focusing on key culture insights, opportunities and risks. Partnering with HR/OD, we provided Knowledge Transfer throughout the initiative to prepare HR for its role in describing findings around culture strengths, needs and dynamics and facilitating action strategy sessions to act on the results. Workshops with senior HR leaders were held in Asia Pacific, Europe, South America and North America.
Outcomes: Division A has reinvented itself from a stuffy, old school television programming company to a hip new content provider. Division B continues to build on its strength as an innovative creator of unique, respected and admired content. Division C has transitioned from a siloed and fragmented organization to an integrated solution provider leveraging its IP across multiple platforms.
Tools: Culture-Strategy Fit Survey, Culture Change Coaching
Reinventing the Organization
A strategic planning process raised concerns about a College’s ability to respond to significant external changes. Challenging new strategies needed to be executed cohesively by VPs, Deans and Directors, requiring a significant transformation in programs, structures and systems, but underlying it all was the worrisome factor, its current culture. The President and the Strategy Office asked Culture-Strategy Fit to help its top leaders develop a unified vision about the culture needed to deliver the strategy, the role they needed to play in its transformation and the behaviors to be valued in making this happen.
Culture work began with a day long session to articulate the Future Culture needed to deliver the new strategy and the behaviors that would contribute most to strengthening culture. Following preliminary activities to develop a shared definition of organizational culture, we ran our Chocolate Factory Leadership Simulation to explore the way the current leadership culture was operating to both support and impede high performance and strategy. This immersive simulation allowed the leaders to experience the way their group norms of behavior were influencing the effectiveness of decision making, planning, risk taking, collaboration, innovation and compliance. Leaders still refer to this as the ‘wake up call’ that sparked the transformation ahead.
The leaders then painted a picture of the Future Culture using Culture Cards and the Culture Images activity. After narrowing focus to specific aspects of culture that needed to be preserved, strengthened or developed, the group described what these would look like in terms of behaviors, beliefs and assumptions. Internal resources were then able to lead processes for validating the future culture by engaging the organization. Advisory services and leader meetings continued for 18 months.
What was missing was a set of Core Values to anchor decision making and actions. It was clear that some Accidental Values (Lencioni 2002) had emerged over time that were undermining performance. To start the Values conversation, we asked 40 of the top leaders to gather to share their stories of values in action when the College was operating at its best. Top leaders carefully prepared a story from their own experience and shared these in detail at tables. Stories that resonated with the table were analyzed for underlying values. Stories and values were then shared across tables, building agreement around those that truly reflected ‘us at our best’. A second meeting helped generate descriptors of the behaviors and beliefs that evidenced these Values. The OD team was now ready to engage the next level of leaders, employees and stakeholders in testing these values and descriptors. Following a year of consultation, the Core Values were approved and integrated into Human Capital processes and systems.
Outcomes: The College is celebrating its 50th year in 2017 and has transformed into an innovation leader. Leadership is aligned around a compelling set of values created and embraced with the active involvement of employees.
Tools: Chocolate Factory Leadership Simulation, Culture Cards, Culture Images, Values Workshop
Integrating Leadership, Culture & Brand
As a purpose-focused organization where giving was a core part of its business model, growth had been staggeringly fast. It was time to reflect on what had been achieved and to more intentionally consider how the company would operate as it shifted to more complex structures and systems. The stage was set with the arrival of new players such as a President, new CHRO and an Organizational Development professional. The intention was to connect the dots between the new Strategy, the Brand, Leadership and Culture.
Two steams of activity took place: first, a Culture-Strategy Fit survey to understand better the culture emerging with growth, and second, a high engagement approach to connecting the dots that included defining the Future Culture, Core Values and related Essential Behaviors. In such a passionate, high engagement workplace, it was important to balance contribution from start-up employees through to seasoned professionals arriving to bolster global expansion. A Culture Camp was launched that included a series of workshops to articulate Future Culture and Core Values. Utilizing many of our Culture Tools plus Advisory Services, we helped guide and support HR on their culture journey.
Outcome: An organization whose members are aligned in their commitment to a vibrant Future Culture vision and unique Core Values reflecting the company's strong social responsibility focus.
Tools: Culture-Strategy Fit Survey, Culture Images, Identify Your Core Values, Values Definition Independent Consultants