Products can be imitated. Strategies can be mirrored. Physical assets can be bought and sold. There’s one asset any company possesses that can’t be replicated: its culture.
In a disruptive, uncertain era where strategies have shorter shelf lives with each passing year and the demand for innovation, customer service and market responsiveness is dramatically accelerated, corporate cultures are an increasing point of competitive differentiation. Companies whose cultures enable transformation have an enormous edge over the competition.
More than a generation ago, management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Today, there is growing recognition that what he said long ago is indeed true. While more organizations are treating culture as a top priority, it is still a mystifying topic for many companies. Where does it come from? How does it exist and exercise influence today? How can it be changed?
Merging companies, aligning cultures: A case study in implementing a purpose-driven culture
At Gagen MacDonald, we have been pioneers in defining, shaping and evolving corporate cultures from our first days.
In our tenures as both advisors and in-house corporate executives, our leaders have seen the transformative power that cultures can have when they inspire behaviors that operate in harmony with both strategy and structure. As a firm, we have partnered with scores of the world’s leading companies to help them effectively harness their cultures to make work more joyous and meaningful for employees and to yield superior results.
In our view, culture starts with experience. As the founder of Habitat for Humanity Millard Fuller once said, “It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” When you give people a new experience, you jolt their thinking. New thinking eventually inspires new behaviors and new behaviors mean new results.
Our approach to culture is rooted in what we view as the Six Levers of Employee Experience: values, energy, behaviors, symbols, systems and communication. We work with you to assess the experiences and beliefs that currently shape your culture, then reverse engineer your strategy to identify what new beliefs need to arise to elicit new behaviors. We then take a design-centric approach to thoughtfully and intentionally create experiences that cause people to think, consider and change. It’s only through this experience-based process that cultures can truly evolve.