Corporate Culture Transformation

We help our clients transform their organizational cultures. Using a method of assessment, we quantify their cultures and identify key areas of improvement, such as in leadership development, onboarding, and recognition programs. We then work with them to redesign these programs to align with and reinforce their desired culture.

Although we are used to a culture in the military where we follow a rules-based code of conduct, one of the first thing that Army soldiers are taught are the seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

While rules are necessary and important, the Army values place equal importance on what should be done. This emphasis on “should” is one of the hallmarks of high-performance cultures and ethical leadership. This focus on the “right” behaviors is not groundbreaking; yet measurably tying it to corporate culture is a practice that is only just now becoming more mainstream.

A TINYpulse survey of 500 companies and more than 200,000 employees found that 64 percent of employees rated their company culture as poor to moderate.  Further, the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015 Report posits that while culture is driven from the top down, most executives cannot even define their organization’s culture, much less figure out how to disseminate it through the company.

Many companies measure employee engagement as a way of determining company culture. But satisfaction and engagement surveys simply document the extent of the problem. The focus must be on culture as the intersection between values and behaviors- The way we think, the way we act and the way we interact with each other.

A lesson our Founder learned in 2004 while serving as the Director of the Center for Army Leadership is that you have to measure culture and that it bubbles up from the ground level. The culture of an organization should be measured in terms of its style, performance or belief from the perspective of the employees. All three are interrelated because leadership determines from the employees where entropy exists. Those functions in the business or unit that employees or clients believe prevent the business from achieving full potential.

Surveying employees quantifies dynamics within a workplace and assesses entropy lies within an organization. This fear and lost productivity, in the form of everything from gossip to bureaucracy to dishonest actions, causes organizations to wither, turn within and, ultimately, fail. The results supply a view into employee behavior that executives have described as “eye-opening” and a quantification of something for which they previously only had a gut feeling.

When we work with corporate leaders to apply lessons from the military to private sector cultures, we use a survey to identify what the employees believe and what motivates them. We identify what they believe at home, what they believe the current organization culture is and what their desired corporate culture is. The next step is collaborative – identifying those who can carry this culture throughout the organization from the bottom up, not just the top down and make systems change where entropy exists. Finally, and this may seem obvious but is not practiced with any robustness, companies must hire people based on the identified values that align with the desired corporate culture.

The adage “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is so much more than MBA jargon. Companies fail when they focus the lens too narrowly on profit and loss and allow values and behavior to run amuck. Satisfaction surveys show the extent of the problem. Putting a stress test to a company’s culture offers benchmarks to fix the problem. It is possible to place tangible perceptions on something that many may believe is intangible, specifically culture.