Aligning culture, strategy, and leadership drives organization health

May 3, 2018 | Insights

What’s the one thing that will make the biggest impact on an organization’s health and success? It’s a trick question – there isn’t one factor alone that will deliver success.

Many individuals will make a case for culture, strategy, or leadership being the top of the list. Peter Drucker is credited with saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and while that may be true, placing a holistic focus on aligning culture, strategy, and leadership gives the organization’s culture room to grow.

The January-February 2018 edition of Harvard Business Review features the article, “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture,” which identifies four key levers to help an organization’s culture progress.

 

Levers combining strategy, leadership, and proven change management approaches:

  1. Articulate the aspiration.
  2. Select and develop leaders who align with the target culture.
  3. Use organizational conversations about culture to underscore the importance of change.
  4. Reinforce the desired change through organizational design.

Organizational culture can shift and develop, but there is no a silver bullet and it takes time. Being transparent with employees prior to making a change, and fostering two-way communication throughout change execution, increases engagement.

The positive effect and benefits realization are well worth the work of performing a thoughtful change management effort – which in itself can be an indicator of a healthy organization.

 

Case study – alignment for engagement

Loft9 recently used a similar approach with a Seattle-based consumer services client that wanted to roll out a large organizational change. Before beginning the change itself, the client wanted to ensure employees recognized the need for change, and would support the change.

To accomplish this, the change management leadership team intentionally prioritized winning over critics of the change and those less-engaged. The philosophy was that if dissenters could be convinced, they would be the biggest change supporters. The change management team took the following actions:

 

The making of change agents

  • Potential change agents were identified – selected by considering each person’s function within their organization, included those with both long and short tenures, and front-line and mid-level level roles
  • Alignment of the vision and build was shared – the group participated in a series of conversations with dialogue focused on informing, and addressing questions and concerns.
  • Socialization of the change in the larger organization – in a series of meetings for other groups within the organization, the newly-identified change agents did most of the talking.
  • More work identified – additional concerns and needs were brought up through the socialization of the change
  • New projects initiated to improve engagement – leadership supported new projects that would improve engagement.

Results

Engagement metrics immediately increased, showing the strategy worked. And while progress has been made, this client’s change is a long term evolution, and the work continues.

 

The sum is greater

Alignment of culture, strategy, and leadership proves the concept: the sum is greater than all of the parts. Finding the balance, and living this balance while executing change management sets these organizations apart from the rest.

Finding allies within an organization to support change is similar to partnerships formed between companies to work toward common goals, share ideas, and solve problems. Loft9 is here to partner with and work alongside our Seattle and Denver clients – providing them with transformational solutions, elevated outcomes, and a great experience.