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8 Different Styles of Organizational Culture: Part 2 

What a Leader Should Do To Change Organizational Culture

Think Again: Why You Need to Invest in the Right Organizational Culture (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1

In the previous article, we have looked at 8 different organizational cultures. Each culture has its distinctive pros and cons. Here is our summary of what they are for 8 different styles:

It is important to accurately diagnose your current organizational/corporate culture and investigate if it is aligned with the company's vision and strategy. When there is a strong culture within the organization that is misaligned with its strategy, it can be a huge roadblock to success.

Think of it this way: Your strategy is verbal communication while your culture is non-verbal. When someone says something impressive and bold, you'd determine its authenticity by what kind of non-verbal information he/she is dropping. Or you can think of it as a ship vs. current. If you try to navigate your ship against the current, you will very likely end up with poor results.

Four Essential Pillars for Successful Organizational Culture Change

Cultural change is daunting for any organization. It does not mean that it is impossible. The original article introduced four levers for evolving a culture. We will briefly introduce each lever as it is crucial to embrace these for a successful culture shift.

  1. Articulate the aspiration Before trying to implement a new culture, begin with a thorough, honest analysis of the current one. Use the abovementioned framework to determine it and have a discussion with others. Then find a good way to explain and showcase the newly sought-out culture to your employees. Culture is somewhat abstract and ambiguous in nature, referring to tangible challenges or goals would help them understand it better and get motivated to change.

  2. Select and train leaders who align with the target culture For culture shifts, leaders serve as significant catalysts for change. Practically speaking, they are the ones who are to introduce, encourage, guide, and initiate the change. Scholars find that incumbent leaders who are unsupportive of the desired change usually get re-energized and dedicated to the shift when they receive appropriate education and training. Make this investment first for a smooth, sustaining result. *Heads-up: Scholars also find that turnover might be inevitable. When people feel they do not agree with the change, they might end up leaving the organization entirely.

  3. Use organizational conversations about culture to underscore the importance of change Intentionally initiate organizational conversations. Various types of conversations such as road shows, listening tours, and structured group discussions can work. Social media platforms can also be used to ignite conversations between managers and frontline employees. Live and active organizational conversations help the employees to shift the shared norms and beliefs, and understand the need for change.

  4. Reinforce the desired change through organizational design For long-term success, make sure the company's structures, systems, and processes align with the aspirational culture and strategy. Utilize performance management to encourage to embrace of the new cultural attribute. Provide training practices to further reinforce the target culture. Remember, organizational culture change should be fully operational in all aspects.


This post is written based on the article The Leader's Guide to Corporate Culture (by Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J.Yo-Jud Cheng) from Harvard Business Review published in January-February, 2018.

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