Changing Business Culture via the Performing Arts

Part 1 of 5

changing business culture

In 2011, a major oil and gas exploration company based in the UK set out on an extraordinary, arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and led by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. The company’s senior project managers are responsible for multi-million-dollar exploration projects around the world and the programme was designed, not to give these senior managers enhanced skillsets or new theoretical frameworks, but to change their behaviors and mindsets — to change their culture. More specifically, the aim was to create a new culture, the key element of which could be described as ‘open-mindedness’, in two distinct forms:

The Hustle and Bustle Advantage

Hustle Bustle

Should your company be striving for the type of advantage that has become the hallmarks of Amazon, Google and Facebook? In the tech world, it’s hard to imagine success without quick and continuous technological improvement. But, in the frantic race for product or service superiority, another advantage is often overlooked – company culture.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell information or cremation, the right kind of organizational culture can bolster and sustain a company’s performance.

Changing your assumptions about culture refinement

culture refinement

What are your beliefs about organizational culture? Some of your beliefs might inhibit your willingness and ability to proactively improve the quality of your work culture.

New clients ask me very similar questions when I start guiding them along the path to a powerful, positive, productive culture. Some of your beliefs might be challenged by my answers! Here are those questions and my responses.

100 Culture Change Insights from 100 Culture Expert Posts


This is the 100th post on and it’s only fitting I summarize 100 of the top culture insights shared by the outstanding line-up of culture expert and guest authors over the last two years.  The purpose of CultureU is to positively impact society on a global scale through culture awareness, education and action.

We’re making progress bringing visibility to culture facts and fundamentals that go beyond all the superficial and over-simplified culture content. These insights barely touch the surface of the important subject of culture but hopefully it will spark your interest to learn more.

I continue to learn at a fast rate from the CultureU faculty and guests. You may download the complete list of Top 100 Culture Insights at this link.

Here are 15 that stood out to me personally:

Want productive, engaged team members? Create workplace dignity and respect.

CultureU Performance

How do leaders and team members treat each other in your workplace today? Do they interact respectfully and civilly . . . or aggressively and selfishly . . . or somewhere in between?

When I ask leaders this question, they typically respond with “Well, I think they treat each other OK.” They are not confident in their perceptions because they don’t pay enough attention to the quality of workplace interactions.

Most Leaders Invest Greater Time and Energy on Results Than They Do on Culture
Leaders typically invest greater time and energy in their company’s products and services than they do to the quality of its culture – yet culture drives everything that happens in an organization, good or bad.

There are good reasons why leaders focus primarily on results.