How to improve your Organisational Culture? Our five steps to success

One of the most common questions we get asked by our customers regarding Organisational Culture is how to improve it. This is an interesting question but can be misleading because there is no one best culture that would fit all organisations. The best Organisational Culture for your organisation is the one that's aligned with and supports your strategy and goals.

In the following article we will take you through our five steps to success with Organisational Culture and demonstrate how our Organisational Culture Scan can be used to support these steps.


1. Identify the issues

The first step is to identify the issues your company is facing. Likewise, you should make sure your issues are in fact rooted in Organisational Culture.


That is the reason why we always begin our projects with an intake call with the top management. During the call, we discuss what the issues are and determine if they are, in fact, cultural. We can then conclude whether or not an Organisational Culture Scan is the appropriate way to start solving the problems, and discuss in detail how it can be used to support your needs as effectively as possible.


2. Measure

The second step consists of data collection and measurements. This is where you measure the actual culture your organisation has and consider measuring the ideal work environment as well. This is generally the phase where many cultural change projects start going wrong.

As we discussed in our previous post, the data should be collected using a proven, reliable method, such as our Organisational Culture Scan. Taking short cuts in the data collection phase gives you the wrong starting point for a successful change and could even bring the culture of your organisation further from your optimal culture.


3. Define Optimal culture

The third step is to define the optimal culture for your organisation. Optimal culture is the culture that best supports your company's strategy and can therefore be used as the goal for the change process.

In practice defining the optimal culture usually means a workshop with the management team. In this workshop our consultant will help the management team familiarise themselves with The Multi-Focus Model. The consultant will also help the management team to apply the model and translate the strategy of the company into an optimal culture. For more information about optimal culture, see our earlier post regarding the types of Organisational Culture.


4. Gap analysis

Now that you have measured your actual culture and defined your optimal culture, the next step is to see how far they are from each other. This is what we call the gap analysis.

Your consultant from The Culture Factor Group (previously known as Hofstede Insights) will present you with a comprehensive report on the degree of functionality of your organisation's culture. You will receive information on how functional your Organisational Culture is in general and a detailed look at each of the six dimensions of The Multi-Focus Model. In addition to assessing the functionality of your culture, you will also receive information on where the pitfalls are, how relevant are those pitfalls and what may cause them. The gap analysis is always conducted with the support of an experienced consultant, usually during a physical workshop.


5. Implement change

After finding out what is and what isn't functional in your Organisational Culture, the fifth step is to create the path that will bring you towards your optimal culture. It is surprising how often the process ends without the changes being implemented and therefore it is crucial that someone will be appointed to make sure the change process continues.

With the Organisational Culture Scan, you receive a substantial amount of guidance for turning the information you've received into real-life work practices. The Levers of Change ™ report will present you with an extensive list of implementable activities you can use to direct your Organisational Culture to the optimal direction. The Executive Match 360 report will in turn offer the management the chance to reflect upon their own practices and how those practices fit the optimal culture. Once again, your  consultant will support you during the implementation stage. The steps to move forward are usually decided during a workshop.

You may have noticed we still haven't talked about the final step. This is because change implementation is not the end of the process. Change doesn't happen overnight and in addition to implementing the necessary steps, it is equally important to follow through with the process. How long it takes to implement sustained change depends on the organisation, but it is normal for it to take a year or two. It can also happen that once you see the results, you will want to run even more measurements to ensure your organisation will stay on the right path in the future as well.


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2019, and last updated in October 2023.