We are in an age where organisations are being forced to look harder than ever at their working cultures in order to satisfy the demands of employees, customers and society at large for healthier, more flexible and ethical organisations. For some organisations, such as those within the financial services sector, this need is particularly urgent due to regulatory imperatives to change culture and change it fast.
Genuinely changing a culture, however, is not easy. It requires working beyond a new set of ‘values’ launched across the business or a new set of leadership competences. We look at the whole system in our approach to cultural change. Our understanding is that the culture of the organisation emerges out of the interplay between the organisation’s ‘Structures’ (tangibles such as physical environment, structures and hierarchies, processes and procedures, roles, boundaries and available resources) and ‘Dynamics’ (the acceptable and preferred ways of behaving and relating). In this way we recognise how culture is preserved and transmitted from one generation to the next, and how challenging it is to change the organisation’s DNA in a way that is sustainable.
Creating a vision of the future culture can create energy and excitement within an organisation. However, experience tells us that simply focusing on how we would like things to be, without examining what exists today, results in the same culture in a ‘different jacket’ – which looks good initially, but effects no meaningful change.
Our approach to culture change is to work with our clients to gather data about the ‘Structures’ and the ‘Dynamics’ of the organisation, to get beyond what is known to the deeper patterns held out of awareness. Within this process, we also share our own observations and experience of the culture as outsiders, in order to shed new light on ways of thinking, feeling and relating that have become ‘the norm’. Only by surfacing these deeper patterns, and making sense together of how they create the ‘magic’ of today’s culture, as well as its shadow side, can we really understand what it will take to create lasting change.
This process of collaboration, exploration and discovery, with dialogue at its core, helps to build a new shared and deeper understanding of today’s culture in a way that fundamentally changes the way people think, feel and behave. In turn, these profound shifts create the conditions for a healthier working culture and improved business performance to emerge.
We enable successful transformation by working with clients to test and advance changes before they are more widely implemented, ensuring that any permanent change has already been tested live with the risks and benefits understood.