Does Your Organization
Have a Balanced Culture?
Navigating increasingly complex business challenges in today's world requires leaders with fresh approaches and sharper tools. If vision defines where the business is headed, and strategy is the road map for how to get there … culture is the engine which determines the speed, performance, and comfort of the trip.
To get peak performance from the culture engine, today's leaders must deliberately shape and manage culture as an asset and a process. In fact, during periods of change, your company's culture is a critical leverage point. Any change throws a system out of balance. In business, the acceleration of change is creating paradoxical tensions that can't be easily resolved -- long vs short term focus, speed vs stability, consistency vs adaptability. Finding the balance point in these paradoxes lies in addressing your culture.
And while the link between culture and performance is proven by research, culture remains largely untapped - and unrecognized - as a resource in most companies.
What is Culture
Simply put, culture is "how you get things done" in your organization, including how you:
The Importance of a Balanced Culture
Like the health of any system, lack of balance in a company's culture may take years or decades to erode the business, but it will -- and often in ways you can't see.
In creating a balanced culture, all factors are not equal. The latest research shows that balance among specific cultural traits is the winning combination for driving exceptional and sustainable business performance:
Measuring Culture and Linking it to Performance
Using a balanced culture to drive business performance begins by knowing where you are. A powerful approach to measuring culture is the Denison Culture Survey. This tool compares your culture against benchmark data of over 3000 companies and links the strength of your culture directly to seven common measures of business performance:
Further, the Denison Survey shows the highest leverage points for bringing a culture into balance and accelerating performance. It avoids the all too common "spray and pray" approaches, where ROI is questionable or non-existent. And the language is intuitive so that everyone from the CEO to line employees can understand and relate to it.
How to Build a Balanced Culture
Once you have a clear picture of "your culture today", what is the process for creating a more balanced culture?
There is no recipe that works for every leader and company. Variables are endless: Market timing. Leadership maturity. Product or business life cycle. Acquisitions.
The following six steps provide a framework and model that is scaleable and effective to restore balance during any change - whether launching a team or undertaking a 10-year culture change to bring a company back from death row:
If you utilize the success secrets above you will build a more balanced culture, and therefore drive greater performance.
Gerry Schmidt, Ph.D. and Lisa Jackson are principals of Matrix Consulting Group, Inc. As corporate culture experts, their primary focus is on the measurement of company culture, the step-by-step process of improving culture, and its impact on bottom-line business performance. They are currently writing a "how-to manual" on effective processes for improving culture. They can be reached on the Web at www.matrixconsultinggroup.com .
Many more articles in Leading Change in The CEO Refresher Archives