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Create sustainable, high-performance cultures and impact the world.

Seasoned leaders know that the road to a successful change management process is not always a smooth one. Strategy, structure, tech, resources, and capacity all may be in place and positioned for an effective effort. However, what are often missed are factors that can be crucial to success and that can blindside the unwary leader. In two words: Culture and Conflict.

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Interest in the subject of culture continues to grow dramatically. It’s a hot topic, and for good reason. Research shows Constructive cultures lead to increased profitability, satisfaction, performance, and more. The Annual Ultimate Culture Conference gathers top thought leaders in the field of organizational culture and leadership to provide valuable insight into and discussion around this elusive concept for professionals passionate about shaping workplace culture.

We’ve gathered three key takeaways from last year’s conference to help you make decisions that have a positive impact on culture and business results.

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The Beatles—arguably one of the greatest bands in history—did not become that way by accident. Many stories abound about their long time playing nightly in Hamburg, getting to know and be in sync with one another. This could be the epitome of creating a truly high-performing team. But what about leadership?

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The People versus the Power

By Louisa Robb

Recently, I had the privilege to lead a session with a management team where they wanted to explore their interaction style as a leadership committee. This was a global, culturally diverse, senior team—leading over 4,000 staff between them, performing critical daily tasks for the organisation, and defining the future strategy of their division with implications for the company at large.

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Be Engaged, Damn It!

By Darshan Bhatt

There is a huge revolution occurring around the role that HR plays in an organization. The role used to be about the Resource part of HR, but more and more it is becoming about the Human side. This revolution started broadly around company culture and is focusing in on employee engagement.1 This has had a profound impact not only on HR but also on what is expected from employees. People are now constantly asked “Are you engaged yet?” instead of “Is it done yet?” 

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Most people don’t talk about constructive cultures1 and correctional facilities in the same breath. If anything, we might imagine how rough and tumble a correctional facility needs to be to keep everyone, officers and residents alike, safe. The reality is nothing is further from the truth. Not only are constructive corrections cultures the safest; they also have the highest potential for helping those under supervision to turn themselves around.

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Organizational Courage, Part 1 of 2 – What It Is

By Catherine M. (Cathy) Perme

Finding personal courage is hard enough, but what happens when an entire organization needs courage?1 Courage is the will to act in spite of fear or despair, for the purpose of human growth. Fostering organizational courage is difficult but the key lies in being true to vision and values while at the same time embracing current reality, despair, and fears.

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After 30 years of working in global corporate organizations as an organization development professional, there is not much I have not come across. I retired from my corporate roles a couple of years ago and now work as an independent consultant. I have learned a lot from my experiences and would like to share one of my most valuable learnings.

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Four Essentials of Culture Change

By Donna Brighton

Culture change is enormous and complex. There is no easy answer, magic pill or quick fix to create instant culture change. However, leaders do have control over their actions and have more influence than they realize. This is the focus of the Four Essentials of Culture Change.

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Transforming workplace culture: One company’s story

By Carol Montgomery and Linda Sharkey, Ph.D.

If your company is in the process of going through or preparing for a merger or acquisition, then you know firsthand that combining the cultures of two organizations is no easy matter.

Last fall, I had the honor of giving a talk along with Carol Montgomery, Senior VP and Chief Human Resources Officer of York Risk Services Group, at the 1st Annual UltimateCulture Conference in Chicago. Carol and I presented a case study to show how York, following a major acquisition, was able to blend two very different types of workplace cultures.

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It’s a FACT. Hampton’s culture movement is a winner.

By Karl Thomas and Rich Berens

The hospitality industry is competitive. And when similar offerings like updated suites, complimentary breakfasts, pillow-top mattresses and deluxe showerheads are found in hotel after hotel after hotel, how can a brand differentiate itself in order to create loyalty among its guests? How can it draw in new customers—pulling them away from competitors offering comparable amenities? It comes down to one thing that can’t be replicated or copied—the service experience.

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Leading Your Safety Culture with Care

By David Bonenberger and Martin Marquardt

An organization’s culture can sometimes be the difference between life and death. More than 4,500 job-related fatalities occurred in the US (OSHA) in the 2013-14 calendar year. This means that, on an average day, twelve people went to work but did not return home to their families at the end of the day.

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The Monday after Thanksgiving in 2005, November 28, was a cold, windy, and gloomy morning. The atmosphere inside of Tasty Catering’s building was neither cold nor windy, but it was very gloomy. We had moved into a building five times the size of our previous building on the first of that month. For the previous 27 days, my two brothers and I had been involved in constant bickering, which was a result of three alpha males trying to assert their dominance and mark their territory. The tension was evident.  The toll on staff was obvious. As the senior leader, I did not have the wisdom to change. I was a victim of my emotions.

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The Role Social Leaders Play in the Optimistic Workplace

By Shawn Murphy and Mark Babbitt

There’s so much talk about culture these days. In fact, “culture” could once again be the buzzword of the year.

Here’s the problem: When most leaders talk about “culture”…they actually mean climate. So let’s define those two very different elements of the workplace.

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To accelerate the culture learning curve and truly impact the world, it’s critical to build on the experience of pioneers in the field of organizational culture. Our Culture Pioneer Panel, one of the unique highlights of the Ultimate Culture Conference, featured insights from three of these trailblazers: Edgar Schein, Larry Senn, and Robert Cooke.

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How Culture Can Build Champions or Hide Heroes!

By Dr. Jason Carthen

There are many individuals who got up this morning unhappy with their current job or position in life. It could be they had great expectations after finishing college, or they decided their previous career was not well-suited for them. Some even went back to school to get an advanced degree, just to find out the degree would not be a cure-all for their disenchantment. Whatever the case may be, there is no shortage of employees who are unhappy with their jobs. According to Gallup, over 70% of workers are unhappywith their place of employment.1 One big cause: Organizational culture.

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How Culture Really Works: Levers for Change

By Robert Cooke, Ph.D.

Given that organization development consultants are fundamentally agents of change, it’s no surprise that many of the questions they ask us about our culture and climate surveys focus on levers for change. Most recently, an attendee at the 1st Annual Ultimate Culture Conference submitted a note card asking, in reference to the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory® (OEI) and my presentation on How Culture Really Works, “If you were to focus on one category of causal factors (structures, systems, etc.), which would you choose?”

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Culture and Performance

By Larry Senn

My fascination with culture began more than 40 years ago when another young industrial engineer named Jim Delaney and I started a process improvement consulting firm not long after graduating from University of California Los Angeles. I quickly discovered that it was easier to decide on change than to get people to change. I observed that companies, like people, had personalities and, while some were healthy, most were like dysfunctional families. They had trust issues, turf issues and resistance to change. The difference between working with Sam Walton on the supply chain at Walmart versus with Woolworth was like night and day. It was clear one would succeed and the other would fail because of the mindset and habits of the firms.

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