Culture is key to business performance, especially in dynamic times.

Culture transformation is critical to business transformation. Good luck trying to transform a business without transforming its culture. Decades of data make it clear that culture transformation is necessary. However, knowing that culture transformation is necessary is not the same as making it happen. This is where the Path to High Performance comes into play.

Path to High Performance

How do you transform a culture to attain high performance? We have learned that the Path to High Performance via culture transformation is a seven-phase process:

  1. Discovery: Building executive team alignment, commitment, and sponsorship.
  2. Planning: Creating detailed project & communication plans; Role clarification.
  3. Diagnosis: Data collection (DOCS, LDS 360) and interpretation to develop a robust understanding of the current state.
  4. Honest Conversation: Developing common understanding across the organization and clear priorities.
  5. Action Planning: Creating detailed action plans and priorities at different levels.
  6. Implementation: Supporting the execution of plans and facilitating feedback, learning, and adjustment.
  7. Sustainable Improvement: Disciplined and intentional, ongoing culture development; progress towards higher performance.

The question in phase 5, Action Planning, is always: “Where do you intervene?” The short answer is: “Everywhere you can!” But a more helpful answer is that culture transformation requires three points of intervention:

  1. Mindsets: Underlying, often unstated assumptions.
  2. Behaviors: Leadership behaviors and patterns.
  3. Systems: “The way we do things around here.”

Culture is hard to change, so you do intervene everywhere you can. But you must be strategic about how you intervene first. Small, quick, achievable victories are important to start the momentum and build confidence in the process—and in leadership’s commitment to real results. Long-term, you must address the mindsets that lead to the behaviors that create the systems.

In the short term, organizations change the individuals in them. But over time, the individuals—with their mindsets and behaviors—shape the systems and the resulting culture. (As Ben Schnieder titled his seminal 1987 book on OD, “The People Make the Place.”)

Culture Change: Do Not Try This at Home

Culture change is not for the faint of heart, and, frankly, it is not for the untrained. Because it is such a complex process, and such an important one, it’s crucial to have the support and wisdom of culture experts to help you navigate the twists and turns in the path.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you address the mindsets, behaviors, and systems that keep you and your organization off the Path to High Performance.

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shhh... a nod to quiet discipline. Businessman holding finger to his lips.