In initial conversations with company executives, 92 times out of 100, they’ll call us and say something like, “We’ve heard you’re culture change experts and we need to change our culture. We’re thinking we want it to be more fun like that Tony what-his-name guy’s company—umm, Zappos. Can you do a “we ‘heart’ employees” (I say tongue-in-cheek) campaign or something to help us with that?”
It’s time to turn the culture world upside down and explode many incorrect notions that are preventing meaningful culture change for organizations and society. We’ve reached a critical point where most leaders are aware culture is important, but they range from being confused to intentionally uninformed about what culture change is all about. This culture awareness-education gap appears to be growing, with a proliferation of over-simplified or incorrect education, unreliable surveys and analytics, so-called experts at every turn, and leaders seduced by the latest trend or silver bullet.
What do you think about this statement?
Invoking a more strategic mode of behavior is a sure path to more social or material benefit.
When I ask this question, I usually see hesitance or reluctance. People really start pondering. Interestingly, asked in a workplace environment, the answer is eventually in support of the statement; though the magnitude of the expected benefit varies. Moreover, the answers correlate quite considerably with the hierarchy-level. Upper levels are clearly much more convinced of it than lower levels. And there is less support in private settings as well.
Culture is rapidly becoming a differentiator in business. We’ve historically thought of it as a means to attract talent. Increasingly it’s a way to attract customers too.
This opportunity to have Culture drive customer acquisition will bring into very sharp focus where – and who – in the C-suite should be held responsible and accountable for creating and nurturing culture.
Dr Mark Powell, one of the co-authors of this article, is an unusual beast: a dancing management consultant. Mark has worked at partner level at several consultancies, including Accenture, KPMG and A.T. Kearney. He is also a world championship-winning Latin ballroom dancer, winning the WDC Open World Over-35 Latin Championship for two years running while he was a partner at KPMG.