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Culture: the invisible enabler of change

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Here, we discuss how transformation efforts arise and derail in many organizations. CEOs and management decide they want to make big changes, whether they improve quality or not. implementing digital transformation; addressing environmental, social, and governance issues; or for any other purpose. Recognizing that this means changing the way people work, senior teams send top-down messages sprinkled with vague adjectives and abstract nouns. Perhaps the company “will be nimble in everything we do.” In theory it all sounds great. But fast forward a few months later, and nothing much has changed (other than a notable increase in employee skepticism). In many cases even the conversion itself is stalling. why? Because the employee heard a series of words that had no meaning in their everyday life.

The scale of change facing businesses requires resilience and adaptability. Involving people in their transformation journey has never been more important. To do that successfully, we need a culture, an invisible enabler that allows a broad set of changes to take root organically. We have identified three key lessons for organizations looking to leverage culture as part of their transformation journey when working with multinationals, particularly the regulated sector.

Lesson 1: Linking culture to business “So what?”

Cultural change cannot be achieved in isolation. Culture must be rooted in the context and rationale of the business. It is an integral part of the ongoing journey, from assessing change to measuring performance.

We recently worked with a multinational pharmaceutical company that undertook a major transformation to optimize their business processes and systems. The leadership team recognized the importance of the cultural shift involved. What they didn’t know was whether the company’s current culture got in the way of where they wanted to be.

This uncovered cultural issues that were impacting operations. For example, lack of cross-functional collaboration between teams was delaying clinical trial start-ups, impacting product pipelines and speed to market. Part of the solution was to focus on how these teams interacted on a daily basis. We led and collaborated with teams to define individual and collective behaviors related to business outcomes and key performance indicators (KPIs).

“So what?” Cultural change must be rooted in measurement to lead to business. Linking behavioral metrics to her business-focused KPIs provides timely and actionable information. For example, say you want to lose 10 pounds in 6 months. How do you track your progress? You can weigh yourself once a month, but if you find that you are not reaching your goal, you lose the opportunity to change that result. A good leading indicator of whether a goal can be achieved is continued action. If you’ve set a goal to hit the gym four times a week and you’re not hitting this key behavioral metric, you know ahead of time that you’re not on track to reach your goal.

Lesson 2: Translating change into specific frontline team actions

Business outcomes clarify the macro picture of cultural change, but employees also need to understand the micro aspects, such as what needs to change in their day-to-day work and how they work as a team. there is. In order to avoid employee overload, this should be limited to a significant few target behaviors that allow for measurable results.

Another example is a generic drug company that has repeated deviations across its manufacturing line and delays delivery to patients. A catchall of “human error” was deemed the culprit. The solution was to encourage root cause problem solving, but what did that actually mean for leaders and employees?We focused on his two target behaviors: .

• Leaders were required to commit to “actively working with their teams to unlock their capacity for problem-solving and to respect their time”.

• Team members were required to commit to “proactively raising recurring issues and presenting solutions for team-based problem resolution.”

These behaviors were reinforced through support mechanisms, including regular leaders site Take a walk (a Japanese term for when a leader makes an in-person site visit), build capacity in problem-solving skills, and tangible rewards and celebrations for success. As a result, the site has reduced repeat manufacturing deviations.

Involving people in their transformation journey has never been more important. We need an invisible culture that allows various changes to take root organically.

We’ve worked with one leadership team whose business has grown exponentially. But as a team, they struggled to make decisions and stick to them, often revisiting them after the fact. It seems there is.” What can they do to make themselves more agile? We have come up with some key behaviors such as “choose which ones to deprioritize for each new priority”. I’m here. For example, stop meetings if no action is being seen, clearly point out when and why exceptions to action should be made, and conduct a 3-month effectiveness check to see if decision-making is improving. agreed to do so.

Lesson 3: Make a plan, but expect it to adapt

As with any transformational endeavor, it’s important to have a plan at the beginning. But we should also expect plans to change. What works in one business unit or geographic market may not work at all in another, so respond to what you have and not what you expect. Focus on incremental progress instead of trying to force big changes in haste. And consistently monitor, learn, and celebrate results.

This principle is common among leaders seeking to influence many companies and cultures. We recently suspended cultural activities for multinationals that are part of a larger transformation programme. This is because it became clear that one business unit was the source of significant risk. Instead of going according to plan, I was able to take a step back and focus on this business, listening carefully to my team members to clarify what they needed and what I could do to help. (In this case, it meant building a strong leadership team before doing anything else.)

The biggest misconception among business leaders about cultural activities is that it’s too sleek and fluffy to make a difference. Based on our experience, culture, along with fundamental elements such as broad communication, employee engagement and leadership alignment, is a key vehicle for creating sustainable change. The challenge is to translate cultural work into practical, business-relevant change that directly impacts frontline employee behavior. By applying her three lessons above, companies can help cultural practitioners and business her leaders learn from each other and forge partnerships that create lasting impact.

Author profile:

  • Luna Corbetta Principal of PwC US’s Workforce Transformation practice. Based in Tampa, Florida, she specializes in strategy and transformation and is passionate about connecting people and organizations to their core purpose.
  • Margo Stockum Director of PwC US’s Workforce Transformation practice. Based in Mountain View, CA, she specializes in culture and talent strategies for organizations undergoing major transformation and preparing for the future of work.