How to Direct Real Culture Change

Culture is a group’s shared assumptions. culture_people.jpg
These shared assumptions about “what works” or “how to do things” drive how you behave in meetings, how you treat customers and vendors, and how you relate to each other.  

experiential behavior diagram

New Strategy. New Culture?

When you decide that you need to move to a new strategy and/or structure for how the organization is going to perform, then you must consider the culture and diagnose which elements of the old culture will have to change to allow the new strategy and structure to succeed.

To address this, it’s important to identify the current implicit or unwritten rules and assumptions and make them visible and explicit. Once that is clear, you can decide what to change that will have the most positive impact, and conduct very targeted  change efforts.


Organizational Culture Levels

Here is the model we will use for talking aboutCulture. It comes from work by Edgar Schein who was thefirst scholar to use Culture as animportant concept in business. As long as all levels align and are congruent, then there is no conflict or problems. However, when there is a disconnect between what is being said [VALUE] and what is actually happening [ARTIFACTS], then we have to dig for the underlying [ASSUMPTIONS] that are really driving things.

This can be very frustrating for Leaders, often because, no matter what they say about wanting something different or new to happen, little really changes. This is because the collective belief of the organization is not being affected and no sustainable change will take place.


The Challenge

Not defining what you want to learn or become but, unlearning what you already know and breaking adaptive habits.

Changing Culture is like trying to change a long practiced habit – like smoking; a quirky, unpredictable golf swing; salting your food before tasting it; etc.  You may know you need to change and even know what to do to change, but breaking out of the old habit can be really tough.



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