We offer our workshops, trainings and consulting remotely, in presence and in hybrid form.

ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE – A KEY FACTOR IN CHANGE PROCESSES

The corporate culture of an organization as well as a fundamental willingness to accept the need for change are decisive factors that determine success or failure in transformation processes. Opinions differ as to whether it is possible to modify such a culture by means of targeted measures. However, there is no doubt about the importance of taking a close look at the culture if something is to change.

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT – HOW TO MAKE IT SUCCEED

Use Vehicles

Cultural change is not an end in itself and does not develop any energy and impact of its own accord. It requires carrier media such as major transformation or digitalization projects. These can function as vehicles with which and within which cultural development can succeed.

Clarify

The concept of culture is very vague. It is important to clarify what it is actually about – and what it is not about. As a rule, it refers to the values, norms and attitudes that shape the decisions, actions and behaviour of employees and executives within the company.

Describe the Current Culture

The first step towards introducing a cultural change usually consists in describing the current culture and making it visible. Implicit aspects of culture are difficult to grasp and therefore difficult to influence. Consistent terminology, examples, approaches and analysis tools help here.

Use of Positive and Negative Patterns

Every culture is unique – including in the way it affects an organization’s value creation. It is therefore all the more important to identify and strengthen beneficial aspects. Equally, unhelpful cultural tendencies should also be looked at carefully and as far as possible transformed into positive attitudes and behaviour patterns.

SUSTAINABLE CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT WITH CIDPARTNERS

With every strategy and transformation project, we pay close attention to the seemingly ‘soft’ subject of cultural development. This enables us to locate hidden potential and allow it to bear fruit – which is what sustainable progress is all about.

To this end, we deploy a broad range of ‘languages’ so that culture becomes visible and something that can be talked about. Our terminology is drawn from various approaches such as Spiral Dynamics, 9 Levels of Value Systems, Corporate Culture according to Edgar H. Schein and the analysis tools developed by Robert A. Cooke, as well as the leading measurement tool in this context, the Organizational Culture Inventory ® (OCI®).

We focus especially on methods and tools that help bring about step-by-step change so that cultural shifts are sustainable, both in small matters as well as large. For instance, one such step could be the joint development of a model, e.g. guiding principles for leadership and cooperation, that corresponds with the previously defined target culture. Specifically documenting such a step makes the transition visible, tangible and workable.

DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

According to Edgar H. Schein, the term organizational culture subsumes various ‘levels’. Together, these levels describe how an organisation ‘ticks’ and ‘how things get done’. The work of this American social scientist, probably the most important treatment of this kind to date, presents a model for understanding the basics of corporate culture.

We use different cultural levels to describe and develop cooperation concepts based on Schein’s model. The levels we most frequently use can be labelled as follows: values, principles, practices and artifacts.

VALUES

Values are usually implicit in the minds of employees and managers - and are often neither discussed nor pronounced, e.g.

  • RESPECT
  • TRUST
  • OPENNESS
  • THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE
  • MORALS
  • COURAGE

Values are statements or basic assumptions about what is recognized as right and important in the organization, i.e. by its members. Bringing about change is most difficult at this level. If change does come about, this is most likely to be when problems can no longer be solved with solutions based on existing values.

PRINCIPLES

Principles are somewhat more concrete than values, e.g.

  • WE ARE PUNCTUAL
  • EVERYONE ACTS IN THE INTEREST OF THE COMPANY
  • WE SHARE OUR KNOWLEDGE
  • WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER

Principles can be understood as basic decision-making aids. They are applied when no explicit agreements or regulations exist – or when they exist, but are not suitable for solving problems in specific cases.

PRACTICES

Practices are concrete ways of proceeding and behaving, e.g.

  • HOW MEETINGS WORK
  • HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE
  • HOW KNOWLEDGE IS SHARED
  • HOW NEGOTIATIONS ARE CONDUCTED

Cultural development processes can be most easily initiated at the level of practices, although this does not mean that discussion of values and principles can be neglected. If new practices conflict too much with the prevailing organizational culture, they will not be sustainable and their effects will be limited. In other words, if the introduction of agile methods and frameworks conflicts with existing values and principles, the transformation will usually stall or only take place on a superficial level.

Therefore: New practices should not be imposed, but regarded as experimental. Such experiments can also be useful for reflecting on phenomena relating to the levels of principles and values.

ARTEFACTS

Artefacts are the most concrete manifestations of a culture, e.g.

  • OFFICE FURNISHINGS / MEETING ROOMS
  • CLOTHING
  • HOW PEOPLE ADDRESS EACH OTHER
  • IT-SYSTEMS
  • CONVENTIONS
  • RITUALS
  • COMMUNICATION

It helps when the artefacts match the target culture. But if managerial staff start wearing trainers and taking off their ties, that doesn't mean that the organization has suddenly ‘gone agile’. All the other levels must be given the attention they require as well.

Contact us

As an organizational consultant and coach, Kristina Evers sees herself as a catalyst for change.

Kristina Evers

Partner

+49.228-25 90 85.0

CONTACT

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND ORGANIZATIONAL DESIGN

How the individual levels are handled is related to the organizational design / the organizational structure. If the structures within which people work together change, this almost always triggers cultural shifts within the workforce / the organization.

A new organizational design, for example the transition from a classical hierarchical or matrix structure to an agile organisational structure, means that cooperation becomes based on different values, principles and practices or processes.

In the context of such a change project, the levels described above represent important fields of action and transition factors that must be taken into account. For changes at this level usually require more time and more intensive discussion at both individual and collective levels.

SUCCESS THROUGH A HOLISTIC APPROACH

For the reasons mentioned above, it is important to look at change and transformation projects from a systemic and holistic point of view:

  • On which levels does a given measure cause what effects (whether by accident or design)?
  • Where must additional efforts be made to achieve the desired goals?
  • What are good starting points for achieving consistent levels?

For us consultants, such questions are important tools that we use to achieve success with our clients across all their transformation and development undertakings.