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It's what I do that teaches me what I'm looking for.Pierre Soulages

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Evolving the company culture: a pragmatic approach

Evolving the company culture: a pragmatic approach

Evolving the company culture is one of the main difficulties in successfully conducting strategic transformations. How about relying on the existing rather than venturing into a disruptive logic?


According to a Gartner poll, 48% of information technology managers identify the company culture as the main obstacle to the digital transformation of businesses. More generally, experts from the Boston Consulting Group note a growing concern among their clients: how can you disseminate across the organization the behaviors required to successfully achieve the targeted strategic transformations—be it turning towards artificial intelligence, developing an agile working mode to innovate more rapidly, improving security at work, or yet offering a more gratifying experience to customers? In all these domains, success depends foremost on the way in which staff operate, decide and interact on a daily basis. Yet, even if individual personalities have an impact, these little choices made daily are conditioned by a whole inheritance of shared norms and beliefs, often implicit or viewed as obvious, which determine what will be acknowledged as the “the right way to do things”.

How can you lead a large group of people to adopt new norms on how to act properly in a given situation? The conventional approach consists in treating the company culture like we treat the organizational structure or the processes: define a target scenario and then deploy a plan to reach it. We thus define values, which will serve as new reference points to guide our choices, often broken down into types of behavior to disseminate. Companies that have tried this approach have generally been disappointed by the outcome observed. For good reason—convincing the people of the rationale behind the change, or even helping them to accomplish it, is not sufficient for them to effectively change. The weight of the habits is too strong. The most convinced and enthusiastic staff members often tend to give up when they note that their entourage continues to behave and judge according to long-established norms.

A promising alternative consists in relying on what already functions well. What sectors of the organization or what traits of the current company culture favor the behaviors propitious to the targeted changes? How can you disseminate them to facilitate these changes?

In this synopsis:
– Understanding the informal functioning of your organization
– Working on behaviors to evolve the culture
Recruiting new profiles to modify the culture: the precautions to take

Synopsis n.284a


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