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Activating Culture Excellence: Unleashing the Power of Engagement

An article in the Roadmap Game series, by Niels Kooi

In our ongoing exploration of the transformative journey toward cultural excellence (Define-Activate-Measure-Live), let's delve into the Activate stage - a phase where cultural aspirations evolve into dynamic realities. This stage is more than a mere continuation; it's a crucial chapter in both our approach and our roadmap game, designed to propel organisations into a realm of heightened engagement and energised cultural change.

Activation is Tailored to Your Unique Landscape, because of its Holistic & Comprehensive Approach

Our methodology transcends the boundaries of a conventional game. It's a holistic strategy that leverages insights from the Define stage while anticipating the Measure and Live stages. This foresight ensures a continuous and seamless cultural evolution, where interventions are strategically placed at the group(s) level (organisation, business units, countries, teams), individual level, and systemic level. The result is not just a theoretical framework; it's a practical, proven approach that can be implemented tomorrow.

What defines our approach is the commitment to tailor outcomes to the unique landscape of each client. We recognise that cultural nuances vary across nations, brands, and groups of people. Therefore, our interventions are far from generic. Instead, they are meticulously crafted to fit the distinct context of each organisation, fostering a culture that resonates authentically with its people.

The Game-Play tackles Challenges & offers Solutions for the Activate Stage Navigating the Activate stage (in real life, not just in the game) brings forth a set of challenges intricately woven into the game-play. Key among these challenges is stakeholder involvement. Activation is about creating widespread awareness and driving action, and for this to be effective, a diverse group of stakeholders must converge, but more about that later.

First and foremost, all the levels need to be touched to drive sustainable change. A couple of very different examples that we often see on the table when we’re playing the game illustrate the engagement in this stage, but also the variety of interventions:

  • On the group(s) level:

    • Leadership Summit: An interactive summit designed to infuse innovation at every managerial level of the organisation, sparking creativity and cross-functional collaboration, but above all awareness of the aspired culture and how it connects to the organisation’s strategy.

    • Restaurant Game: A game to simulate the organisation’s value chain from another (but for everyone familiar) angle: an Italian restaurant, including interventions like kitchen fires and (fake) cockroaches, and an ensuing discussion to connect everything with the day-to-day business (see also the picture on top of this article).

  • At the Individual Level:

    • Dos and Don'ts Manual: Personalised cultural guidelines (again, based for instance on the values), offering a practical reference for team members and other colleagues in the value chain to understand and appreciate what makes everyone tick.

    • Peer Learning: An initiative that encourages employees to share cultural best practices, fostering a culture of learning and collaboration, breaking through organisational (departmental) and hierarchical silos, through an (online or in-person) exchange of insights, linked to the cultural development topics (e.g. the values).

  • At the Systemic Level:

    • Project Alignment: A round table to align the other major transformation programmes to ensure they reflect cultural values, promoting consistency, and the other way around, but also including other behavioural programmes that are not labelled as culture (e.g., diversity & inclusion, safety, speak up).

    • Process Owner Forum: A kick-off to raise awareness among process owners to start aligning their (key) processes with the aspired culture, ensuring that the way work is done mirrors the cultural ethos, and the processes actually enable people to behave in the right way; the next stage (measure) will go into detail on how these assessments are run.

Before the game is played, dozens of cards will be discussed between the client’s team and ours, to make sure that a relevant selection can be presented. The outcome will be different every time. Have a look at some of our case studies to find out more about our actual client work.

Activation is also about commitment from the main internal stakeholders Effective game-play demands the presence of a diverse set of stakeholders, each contributing a unique perspective to the cultural evolution. In my experience, the main three stakeholders in terms of functions should be:

  1. Strategy & External Communication: To align cultural activation with the external (client) perspective and strategic objectives.

  2. Human Resources: To ensure internal perspectives, talent development, and organisational readiness.

  3. Internal Communications: Bridging the external and internal perspectives seamlessly.

However, other perspectives need to be represented as well, which can be done in a later stage (by cascading the game) but are ideally covered in the first go. These include, but are by no means limited to:

  1. Facilities: Vital for organising activities.

  2. Operations (the ‘Business’): Ensuring feasibility and buy-in for implementation.

  3. Audit and Finance: Preparing for the Measure stage and ensuring financial alignment.

The next Stage (Measure) connects Cultural Advancement to Strategic Progress As we conclude the Activate stage, I'd like to offer a tantalising glimpse of what lies ahead - the Measure stage. This upcoming phase is all about tracking progress. To prepare for this, having baseline measurements in place is crucial. Yet, what sets our approach apart is the innovative way we measure cultural progress.

We introduce novel methods of measurement that go beyond traditional metrics. We link strategic progress to cultural evolution and, most uniquely, employ a relative measurement approach. Instead of comparing different individuals or pockets of the organisation against each other in an absolute sense, we measure individuals and teams in a relative manner - relative to themselves. This approach fosters continuous improvement without triggering complacency or disengagement.


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