New Study: 96% Think Culture Change is Needed in Their Organization

96 Percent

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on TLNT and was used to populate CultureU for its launch.

First of two parts

Booz & Company just released a very interesting culture study.

Here’s the bottom line: Everyone knows culture is important, culture is not being effectively managed, and they gave some incredibly over-simplified guidelines for managing culture. There must be a better way to build pride, drive out fear, and manage culture effectively.

Here are the highlights from the full study:

  • 84 percent of respondents, and 86 percent of C-Suite respondents, believe that their organization’s culture is critical to business success.
  • 60 percent said culture is more important than the company’s strategy or operating model.
  • 96 percent said some form of culture change is needed within their organization.
  • 51 percent believe their organization is in need of a major culture overhaul.
  • 45 percent do not think their culture is being effectively managed.
  • 48 percent do not think they have the capabilities required to deliver lasting change.
  • At 57 percent, skepticism due to past failed efforts was the No. 1 reason for resistance to change.

How do you manage culture?

There are plenty of frameworks for managing strategy, talent, leadership, or performance, but not culture. Culture has been this elusive, mysterious subject. There are numerous surveys and models but most culture management guidelines resort to over-simplified tips, keys or other suggestions.

This study is no different. Booz gives the following “levers” for sustaining change in their culture video and oceanographic (they are both very interesting):

  • Focus on a critical few behaviors with the most cultural impact.
  • Expand change capabilities beyond leadership and communication alignment.
  • Activate informal levers, such as peer networks and storytelling.

These are all very accurate guidelines, but to say they have any chance at all of delivering “sustainable change” is a gross misrepresentation.

Not a ticket to sustainable change

CEO’s and leaders are left asking “How?” with each lever, but these levers barely touch the surface of any sustainable change effort. Fortunately, they are more connected to performance than the haphazard pizza party, company meeting, or employee survey, but they don’t build a strong culture foundation with any clarity.

Yes, culture is important and most organizations struggle managing it, but I don’t think these “levers,” or many of the other over-simplified best practices we often read about, come anywhere close to supporting sustainable change.

What do you think about the study and the “levers” from Booz? Do you think most people over simplify what it takes for effective culture management?

See part 2 of this post: The 9 Clear Steps for Organizational Culture Change

About the Author

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Tim Kuppler

Faculty Tim Kuppler is the founder of Culture University and former Director of Culture and Organization Development for Human Synergistics, a 40+ year pioneer in the workplace culture field where he led collaboration and partnering efforts with culture experts, consulting firms, industry organizations and other groups interested in making a meaningful difference in their organization, those they support, and, ultimately, society. Currently with the Compass culture division of the staffing powerhouse, Insight Global, Tim authored Build the Culture Advantage, Deliver Sustainable Performance with Clarity and Speed, which was endorsed as the "go-to" resource for building a performance culture. He previously led major culture transformations as a senior executive with case studies featured as part of the 2012 best-selling book – Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations. He was also President of Denison Consulting, a culture assessment and consulting firm and is an accomplished speaker and recognized as a Top 100 leadership conferences speaker on Tim's 20 years of culture and performance improvement experience includes the rare mix of executive leadership, coaching, and consulting knowledge necessary to help leaders quickly improve team effectiveness and results as they focus on their top performance priorities, challenges, and/or goals. He networks extensively in the workplace culture field in order to learn and apply the latest insights from many experts.