Culture Change & Culture Management

In overview, we can:

1. Undertake a thorough audit of the existing culture

2. Identify barriers to change

3. Facilitate senior management in defining their desired cultural profile

4. Develop a culture change ‘master plan’

5. Implement the change plan

In more detail:

1. Undertake a thorough audit of the existing culture:

  • Where the immediate issue is a dysfunctional problem: through an audit, we will disentangle symptoms from root causes, precisely define the ‘real’ underlying issues and prioritise them
  • Where the requirement is to integrate an acquired company: through the audit of the acquired company (and also of the acquiring organisation if necessary), we will determine the size and profile of the gap that must be closed
  • Where the issue is a desired change of strategic direction: through an audit, we will assess firstly the existing culture to establish how entrenched it is, and secondly the changes necessary to support the strategic shift

Every situation is different, therefore exactly what the audit should focus upon and precisely how the work should be done will vary, e.g.:

  • Most culture audits can be completed without undertaking any research amongst customers or other external stakeholders – but there are cases where investigating external perceptions is necessary
  • The primary focus of cultural audits is on defining precisely what the culture is, or perhaps on analysing the consistency of the culture across geographies and business units

We follow established methodologies, but use these intelligently and tailor our approach precisely to each situation.

2. Identify barriers to change

Where a significant cultural shift is envisaged, we can identify where resistance is most likely to come from, which specific elements of the proposed change will provoke resistance, and in what form this is likely to arise. This can be an integral part of a broader cultural audit, or may be a stand-alone exercise.

3. Facilitate senior management in defining their desired cultural profile

We work with the CEO and senior executives to help them crystallise precisely what culture they wish to achieve, moreover to ensure that there really is for consensus and backing for every element.

Depending upon the circumstances, this may precede or follow a culture audit.

4. Develop a culture change ‘master plan’, including:

  • What specifically needs to be done to effect the required changes
  • The stages, sequence and mechanisms for doing this
  • Who should be involved at each stage
  • How different types of resistance will be dealt with
  • How progress will be monitored


5. Implement the change plan:

Culture change should, as far as possible, be internally-led. The role for us, as external advisors, should be restricted to supporting the project leader and his/her team, and facilitating the initial roll-out. However:

  • Where significant change is involved, an internal event (i.e. a management conference) may be an ideal ‘launch’ for the initiative. When well-designed, these are highly effective and also have a huge impact on company morale; conversely, poorly conceived conferences can achieve little in terms of changing culture, but simultaneously undermined credibility in the senior team. (See In-house Conferences)
  •  In parallel with a culture change, it may be necessary to improve or modify key commercial processes – e.g. if the change is to become more ‘customer led’, the customer service/customer interface processes may require improvement; if the aim is to become more innovative, work may be required to improve the innovation and product development processes. (See Development of Commercial Processes)

Our general approach (see Our Approach) is to work with clients in joint project teams. This maximises understanding, acceptance and ownership of the subject in question and the strategies and solutions developed. Nowhere is this more important than in culture change initiatives.

For a brief explanation of our perspective on culture, particularly in the chemicals and materials sectors, click here: Culture in Industrial Corporations

For a discussion of the relationship between culture and the corporate brand, click here: Cerebra On The Corporate Brand & Culture