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Measuring Culture Excellence: The Bridge to Strategic Success

An article in the Roadmap Game series, by Niels Kooi

In the fourth article of this series, I delve into the third stage of Defining, Activating, Measuring, and Living Culture. In today's business landscape, culture change isn't just a passing trend; it's crucial in order to stay competitive. However, change for its sake alone isn't sufficient. To ensure enduring success, your culture change must be intimately intertwined with your strategic objectives. In this article, I explore the crucial measure stage of the Roadmap Game for culture change, where we combine qualitative and quantitative measurements to track our progress.

Connecting Strategic Progress with Cultural Change At its core, the measure stage is about tracking progress. Beyond defining the culture in the Define stage and activating it in the Activate stage, it's essential to verify progress toward that aspiration. It’s crucial to ensure that cultural change aligns with your strategy; otherwise, it lacks a solid business case. Let's explore how you can achieve this.

A Flexible Tiered Approach for Omnipresent Change Our approach at InspiringPeople bridges cultural advancement with strategic progress across multiple levels. Much like in the Activate stage, we adopt a comprehensive approach across various cultural levels:

  • Group Level: We employ the Culture Alignment Framework, based on the Competing Values Framework (OCAI) by Cameron & Quinn. Additionally, we track organisational awareness, willingness, ability, and results (AWAR, see below), all linked to ongoing culture change. Also, we conduct Organisational Network Analysis to understand collaboration across the company.

AWAR maturity levels explained
  • Individual Level: Assessing individual contributions involves evaluating both "what" people achieve in terms of strategic KPIs and "how" they achieve these results, such as adherence to values, employing a behaviour & performance grid. We conduct 360 assessments on cultural maturity. For leaders, we consider engagement or e-NPS scores, which trickle down to their direct reports.

  • Systemic Level: Evaluation involves examining how various aspects, including processes, learning programmes, procedures, and policies, encourage desired behaviour, employing a culture audit. We shift focus in reporting from "what" to "how" and actively promote sharing "bright spots" - innovative practices aligned with the aspired culture. Additionally, we gather or connect external measurements, for instance by capturing the voice of the customer.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating Our comprehensive view of measuring culture change has led to successes, detailed in the case studies on our website. Partnering with clients like Plusnet in using the Culture Alignment Framework, where we could track cultural progress, and the municipality of Amsterdam in using the e-NPS, where we succeeded in a 40+ point increase are just some examples. While we can measure a lot, obtaining insights from measurements might not always be straightforward. Overcoming these obstacles requires strategic approaches.

Overcoming Common Measurement Roadblocks Several challenges may arise in the measure stage, including resistance or lack of involvement from departments like Finance. Addressing these challenges means involving key stakeholders from the outset, emphasising the roles of functions like Strategy and Transformation, while acknowledging the roles of Communications and People functions.

Survey fatigue is another challenge, which can be overcome by integrating culture measurements into existing surveys or using readily available data. Understanding that while a strong correlation exists between culture and performance, establishing causation isn't straightforward. Micro-level behavioural analysis helps bridge this gap, converting staunch opponents.

Expecting immediate results is another challenge. Sustainable, lasting culture change takes time, but quick wins play a crucial role in maintaining necessary support. Setting early targets in terms of involvement or reach during different stages can be crucial.

Robust Approach Through Comprehensive Metrics Our approach stands out due to several reasons. We consider both internal and external metrics, weaving a comprehensive narrative. Our holistic, multi-layered assessment not only focuses on cultural improvement but also gauges its impact on overall performance.

We advocate for relative measurements, benchmarking against yourself to fuel constant improvement. Absolute benchmarks often fail to consider specific circumstances, leading to insufficient comparisons. Finally, collaborating with experts in various fields, from Engagement to Organisational Network Analysis, provides a deeper understanding of the secrets of organisational culture.

Making Metrics Engaging Measuring culture change need not be mundane, nor should low scores equate to punishment. We make the measure stage engaging by employing activities like live voting using tools like Mentimeter or interactive sessions with a barista, combining technology and real-time engagement. Promptly sharing measurements sparks discussions, revealing the true value of culture change.

The Journey Continues: Next Steps in the Live Stage The measure stage is an integral part of the roadmap game and our client work. In the subsequent article, we'll explore the Live stage. Here, the focus shifts to making culture change sustainable, creating ongoing interventions, and embedding the new culture into the daily life of your employees. We’ll discuss mechanisms that act as flywheels and provide tips on creating the right environment for ongoing culture change without continued external support, like myself. I'm looking forward to it.


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