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It's time for a culture revolution

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Over the past few years, as businesses grappled with the disruption caused by the pandemic, work environments underwent a significant transformation. Such a monumental disruption has inevitably left an impact on your company culture.

Strategy is the plan to achieve your business goals. Culture expresses your goals through values to guide behaviour.

It is well-established that culture has a direct bearing on business outcomes because it is closely tied to behaviour. When aligned with strategy and leadership, a robust culture can fuel business performance. However, if your business strategy has been disrupted or if you have altered your goals, your culture may also need to evolve. Approaches that worked in the past may no longer prove effective, making it crucial to establish a process to manage your culture.

What is your culture style? HBR recently presented a valuable resource that aids in characterising culture. This tool operates by examining two key aspects: the level of interdependence among individuals and their response to change. Is your business built around independent or interdependent people? Is the team adaptable and responsive or stable and consistent in the face of change?

When assessing culture, I use this tool to identify where your business and leaders fall on the spectrum. This helps to gauge whether your culture is in sync with strategy or if there are any discrepancies. Take a look at the grid below, where do you think you sit? Do other team members share your view?

Source: HBR (2018) The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture
  • Caring – warm, sincere, relational

  • Purpose – purpose driven, idealistic, tolerant

  • Learning – open, inventive, exploring

  • Enjoyment – playful, instinctive, fun loving

  • Results – achievement, goal-driven, focused

  • Authority – bold, decisive, dominant

  • Safety – realistic, careful, prepared

  • Order – rule abiding, respectful, cooperative

When multiple cultures are at play. There can be multiple styles at play at once. For example, you may be both purpose-driven and caring or have a results-focus and decisive authoritative culture. Multiple culture styles are ok, if they work together. But if they are at cross purposes or misaligned with your strategy, your performance will be affected. By being aware of the multiple cultures in your business you can see if and when change is required.

Culture, leadership and strategy misalignment is a liability.

Evolving your culture – driving performance You can improve your business performance through careful culture management and if needed cultural change so it drives performance and becomes a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The first step is to understand the style of culture currently at play in your business. Ask yourself, does it align with current and future business conditions and strategy? For instance, with the trend of remote working likely to persist, you may need to instil greater independence in your teams (results and enjoyment style culture). Similarly, to cope with rapidly evolving business environments, you might need to adopt a more agile and flexible approach (purpose and learning). This is the ideal juncture to assess your culture and create a work environment that enables you to excel in your daily operations and progress towards your future goals.

I love to chat all things culture, brand, and sustainability. If this strikes a chord with you, get in touch. Coffee's on me.

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