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Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Digital Business Strategies, Business Strategies and HR Strategies all require an Organisational Culture that is enabling, engaging and that moves people towards the achievement of the shared business Purpose, vision and goals.

There are two ways to approach the challenge of culture. Either one adopts a Laissez-faire approach that believes that culture will somehow magically “happen” and produce the desired outcomes, or one chooses to consciously design and build both a solid foundation, agile framework and approach for implementation and growth.

The Singularity Company assists clients with the latter world view to achieve true differentiation. Our experience has taught us that in order to effect sustainable business and HR transformation that a conscious, deliberately planned, well thought out and articulated approach to culture serves bests to ensure business innovation and sustainability.

Transformation is highly unlikely to deliver full benefits and impact of digital investment unless it is backed by a culture that has been enabled and prepared to optimise.

We utilise various diagnostic frameworks and tools to measure pre and post culture interventions. We help select, design and implement the right cultural framework, approaches and “interventions” critical for transformation.

We help our clients:

  • Diagnose, Ideate and Define
  • Align people, process and technology (adopt a “Systems” approach to change)
  • Manage Implementation and measure impact

Diagnose, Ideate and Define

Step 1 – Evaluate your current culture and performance

1) Define your 1-3 critical performance priorities – e.g. growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, etc.;

2) identify your 3-5 value/behavior strengths and

3) identify no more than 1-3 value/behavior weaknesses that are holding back your organization from achieving its full potential with the performance priorities you defined.

Assess current and future ideated culture using The Competing Values Framework (CVF). The Competing Values Framework model describes how opposing drives—or competing values—manifest themselves within organisations.

Step 2 – Clarify and Ideate the initial vision: Define your vision for improving results with only one or two of the performance priorities from step No. 1 and how you will build a culture advantage by leveraging the value/behavior strengths and improving the weaknesses. Clearly communicate how you will work together to improve the weak areas since they are holding your organization back from supporting your purpose and stakeholders.

Step 3 – Clarify and define values and expected behaviours: Define supporting expected behaviours for the 1-3 weaknesses that you identified in step #1. These behaviours would be consistently exhibited in your organisation if you were “living your values.” People interpret values from their own perspective so we define the expected behaviours.

Align people, process and technology

Step 4 – Clarify strategic priorities: Define and clearly share the 3-5 actionable strategic priorities that your organization will focus on to support the 1-2 performance priorities included in your initial vision from the Define steps. If the performance priority is growth, will it be achieved through new products or services, revised sales strategies, growth with current customers, or other strategies. Employees want and need to understand the big picture.

Step 5 – Engage your team in defining SMART goals: Engage your organisation and utilize extensive feedback and prioritisation to define the objectives that support each strategic priority. These goals need to be defined in a way to support the expected behaviors for the 1-2 weaknesses you identified from the Define steps.

For example, if accountability is a weakness, goals should include more disciplined plans, measures, reviews, recognition, and other approaches to support the behavior you need. Goals also need to be translated to all levels in larger organisations so that people understand how to work on their goals and measures to impact the broader organisation.

Step 6 – Clarify and track key measures: Identify a small number of overall measures that support the one or two top performance priorities from the Define steps. It may help to have one highly visible “unifying metric” even if some employees don’t directly influence it.

Manage Implementation and measure Impact

Step 7 – Maintain a management system for priorities and goals: Most organisations have a system to track or monitor the status of priorities and goals. These reviews need to be adjusted to focus additional time and attention on the top performance priorities and value/behaviour shifts identified in the Define steps. The focus must be on results and supporting the behavior shift through recognition, coaching, removing barriers, etc.

Step 8 – Manage communication habits and routines: Transparent, genuine and consistent communication is needed about the performance improvement journey and the role of culture, so all employees feel part of the process.

Regularly scheduled sessions with two-way communication and extensive informal approaches are needed to emphasise expected behaviors and results. Use these sessions to clarify plans, answer questions, expose rumors and reduce drama.

Step 9 – Build motivation throughout the process: Feedback and recognition are critical to the process. Share and celebrate progress in a transparent manner as a standard part of regular communication activities. Confront reality when improvements don’t go as planned and re-engage your team to prioritise adjustments.