The First Step to Igniting Corporate Culture Change and Development

PHOTO: Soham Banerjee

Although “corporate culture” is a concept that’s been around for at least 50 years, it has only become mainstream in the last 10 years. It’s a serious component to any leader’s portfolio. Leading with culture as a principle, and understanding that the biggest legacy a leader leaves is the capacity of its people to work together — that is why culture is becoming more mainstream.

Start by noticing the gap between the current way of operating and the ideal future. Spend time understanding and articulating that gap in specific terms, and why that difference is critically important to the performance of the business.

Consider, for example, a company trying to make the transition from being a product company to being a service company. Imagine the CEO standing up and saying, “Guys, we love the people working in service, we love the product people, we love the technology, we love the customers. But unless we put all of those pieces of the puzzle together, we’re never really going to win this game.” That’s a mindset change. It’s not about either product or service, but about people seeing the complex interplay between them. That may be difficult to manage, but understanding that complexity — and learning how to do it well — is the path of the future.

Dan Denison is the author of “Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations: Aligning Culture and Strategy” and professor of management at Swiss-based business school International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
Originally published in volume 17 issue 5 of Your Workplace magazine.

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