How To Successfully Lead a Culture Transformation

Having led a few Culture Transformation programs in my career, including the one that I am leading in my current role and organisation, in my experience and perspective “U” as the leader of change and culture transformation “R” most critical to its success.

I believe, the following to be rudimentary and essential for a successful cultural transformation.

1) Indepth “As-Is” analysis of the current organisation culture – Understanding clearly what works well and why? and what’s not working well and why? What’s needs to change and why?

2) Clearly articulate a case for change and transformation. Define the “From-To’s” Detail and describe the values and behaviours of leaders and workforce that you want to see as an outcome of your intended culture.

3) Cast and define the culture proof points in terms of; a) voice of customers and other stakeholders about your organisation, b) stories and coffee machine talks within your organisation, c) How the Hero’s of the new culture will look like and what will be their values and behaviours, etc, etc.

4) Design and roll out a structured and innovative culture transformation program (with varied initiatives keeping in mind the organisational complexity in terms of company’s geographical spread, employee levels, etc). Be an executive sponsor and appoint a full time program manager to manage the culture transformation. Manage it like a proper program and not like an initiative or a small project.

5) Develop a robust change, communication and engagement – management plan. Involve and include all stakeholders. Make sure that the stakeholders understand their role in making it happen and own the transformation.

7) Lead from the front – Facilitate and shape an organisation-wide dialogue, listen to employees, challenge them, support them, create and nurture a”Network of Culture and Change Champions” they should be your critical mass… your extended team.

8) Design a measurement framework and process for monitoring progress and success of your transformation program. Change and transformation specific surveys based on Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology are very effective. In addition, conduct dip-stick surveys, coffee corner discussions and keep measuring and feeling the pulse of the people and the organisation.

9) Refine what’s not working and reinforce what’s working. Do not add additional or new initiatives – bear in mind the change fatigue and keep it simple but engaging and exciting.

10) Celebrate success, recognise the new culture Hero’s, emphasis and reward them for the desired behaviours and values that they role model. Share success stories via the Hero’s and inspire others to follow the role models.

Culture building in organisations is a journey, your perseverance and commitment to the program as a leader will define its success. Make sure you manage expectation and not fall in the “overnight result trap”. Continuous improvement is key, as soon as you think your program is successful and the job is done – you will need to ready yourself for the next sumit or phase of the journey.

In my opinion good leaders lead and manage people effectively, but great leaders do that and build a culture.

Culture can become a ‘secret weapon’ that can make extraordinary things happen ~ Jon Katzenbach

6 thoughts on “How To Successfully Lead a Culture Transformation

  1. Yash, good one and interesting read. couple of things i sense in culture building is the importance of “Organisational Values” and Organisational Principle’s is very vital and how leaders’s demonstrate it all the time, independent of the person that they are dealing with. in our regional context, the position and power sometimes contravene values and principles.

    Recently Korn Ferry published that now organisational Culture is becoming the attraction more than the money and title. which is very well captured in the book “Win Win Corporation” by Shashank Shah a fellow from Harvard, where he states that companies like Tata, TVS, L&T, the attractive proposition is that the culture the organisations have created over the time has led to them where they are standing today. its an interesting read.

  2. I would like to share one quotes on this informative article “No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it” -Jack Welch.

  3. This is very good read Yash, especially for OD practitioners and business leaders. It provides all important components of culture change framework. Incidentally, I have also facilitated quite a few of them and adopted other alternatives… Will share more when we get opportunity to meet.
    Samir Parikh – 9825252585

  4. Made for an interesting read Yash. In large transformations, one needs to keep chugging along and stay invested in the process till momentum takes over. Robust project management & leading from the front were my take aways.

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