What is Culture Mapping and why should you care?

Dave Gray
5 min readSep 29, 2015

Depending on who you ask, 60–70 percent of change initiatives fail to meet their stated objectives, and the primary source of that failure, according to a Deloitte study, is resistance to change. So if you’re embarking on a change initiative, the last things you want to skimp on are risk-awareness and risk management.

Why should I care about Culture Mapping?

If you have an important change initiative you should do a Culture Mapping scan. It reduces risk and increases your chances of success.

Think of it this way. Imagine that your change initiative is a large fleet of ships that is about to go into a relatively uncharted waters (your organization’s culture). You would be stupid to just take the ship into the harbor without some advance scouting.

Culture Mapping is like sending in a team with a fast, motorized rubber raft, to scope out the harbor and plant big red flags to mark the rocks under the surface. To find the deep water and favorable currents. To scope out hostile and friendly forces. To map the territory, so you can navigate the safer waters and give your larger mission the best possible chances for success.

Even a brief, one-week Culture Mapping scan will give you enough information to avoid costly mistakes and find the positive enablers that can help you position your initiative for maximum success and to minimize risk.

Most importantly, Culture Mapping works. It surfaces information that, as far as we know, cannot be collected any other way. It gives the C-suite access to frontline culture in a way that they could never get through their own efforts, because the water-cooler conversation always shuts down, or significantly shifts, when the CEO or senior leader walks by.

How does it work?

First, you work with a Culture Mapping team to identify the groups that can best represent the…

Dave Gray

Founder, XPLANE. Author, The Connected Company and Gamestorming http://xplaner.com

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