Assess the cultural landscape early: Successful change programs pick up speed and intensity as they cascade down, making it criticallyimportant to understand and account for culture and behaviors at each level of the organization.
Companies often make the mistake of assessingculture either too late or not at all. Thorough cultural diagnostics can assess organizational readiness to change, bring major issues to thesurface, identify cultural factors that will support or inhibit change, and target sources of leadership and resistance. They identify the core values, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions that must be taken into account for successful change to occur. They serve as the common fact baseline for designing key change elements, such as the new corporate vision, and building the infrastructure and programs needed to drive change.Explicitly address culture and attack the cultural center: Company culture is an amalgam of shared history, explicit values and beliefs, and common attitudes and behaviors. Change programs often require amending, creating (in new companies or companies built throughmultiple acquisitions), retaining (in storied consumer goods or manufacturing concerns), or merging (in mergers or acquisitions oflarge companies) culture to be successful.
Culture should be addressed as thoroughly as any other area. This requires developing a baselinethrough a cultural/organizational diagnostic, defining an explicit end state or desired culture, and devising detailed plans to make thetransition. After completing the vision and thinking about the desired culture, leaders can assess the current culture to understand the gapsthat need to be bridged and to identify strategies to accelerate the development of a new culture.
Leaders should be explicit about the typeof culture and underlying behaviors that will best support the new way of doing business, and find opportunities to socialize, model, and rewardthose behaviors. Attacking the cultural center of a company — the locus of thought, activity, influence, or personal identification — is often aneffective way to jump-start culture change