What Is Culture Change and How do I Do It?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

– Peter Drucker

I define company culture as something a company does, how it does it, why it does it and how that drives the behaviours of its leadership, employees and customers. These aspects are influenced by what people believe, what they value and the principles that guide them.

Whether we are leaders or followers, we should ask ourselves:

  • What’s our purpose?
  • What influence do we want to have on the world?
  • What do we want to achieve along the way?
  • Who and what do we need to help us make it happen?
  • How will we work?
  • What impact will we have on society?

A comprehension of the above will help you understand if you are a good fit for a company or if a company is a good fit for you, customer or employee alike.

Having a good company culture is important and instrumental to ensure your legacy in the world is a positive one. It enables you to make the right decisions to lead and nurture the people who follow you; and inspires, empowers and influences the same people to make the right decisions and ensure the right outcomes are delivered. However, a company’s culture needs to change and adapt when it loses its way and recognises the need to improve, or when innovation disrupts markets or revolutionises the way we live and work.

Culture change can be a huge undertaking, depending on what levers have been pulled to instigate new change initiatives. It’s an evolving thing, shaped by people and their behaviours.

Follow these steps to run a successful culture change project.

  1. Obtain leadership buy-in

For any successful change to happen you need the backing from people of influence. Make your case relevant to the interests of each individual you need support from, outlining what you need from them, when you need it and how they will benefit. Having the confidence of leaders will bolster your intentions and set you up for success.

  1. Be transparent with those you want to follow you

It’s important you are open and honest with the people who might be impacted by your project. You need to reassure them by explaining in the clearest terms why change is necessary and what you hope to achieve. It’s important to take feedback on board and respond with a plan to mitigate any risks and manage concerns.

Ensure you have enough backing to move things forward and bring the right people on board to make them feel valued and part of the journey.

  1. Recognise where you are

You need to fully understand the current state by defining your underlying problem in a problem statement. Perform root cause analysis techniques to work out what problem you really need to solve and use this as your starting point.

  1. Identify where you need to be

Once you have a good understanding of the problem you need to agree your vision for change. Define a vision statement and outline the solutions required to transform your culture.

  1. Build your blue print

Bring your vision to life by designing your future state. A future state design is a blue print for change and conceptualises your vision. It’s a good idea to test concepts and track their performance to learn and improve – don’t be afraid to fail, learn from the failures and course correct. The sooner you fail, the quicker you succeed.

  1. Plan your delivery

Change doesn’t happen overnight! Prioritise your changes in order of value and work out what you need to deliver in the short term and in the long term. Develop a clear line of sight by planning the roll out of your changes overtime. You should aim to keep changes small and make them as often as you can, causing as little disruption as possible while realising the benefits. Communicate your plan to everyone impacted for transparency.

  1. Prepare your teams

Your teams need to be prepared for the impacts of change. Define a business readiness plan to communicate when the changes will be rolled out, what is needed to facilitate them, how teams will be impacted and when they will receive training.

  1. Roll out your changes

Work out exactly what you need to roll out the changes and who will support you through it. Bring as many influential and hands-on people on the journey with you and make sure you communicate the roll out to everyone impacted, in good time. Monitor the rollout and be prepared to make small corrections.

  1. Sustain, sustain, sustain!

The most important part of any new change initiative is sustaining the outcome to ensure the benefits occur indefinitely. Put controls and governance in place and provide supporting structures to avoid teams reverting back to the old ways of working.

  1. Review and improve…now repeat

Continuous improvement (Kaizen) is a form of evolutionary innovation and is the method for regularly identifying opportunities for improvement. Everyone in your team should embrace this principle. Appoint a champion of continuous improvement to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

Tip: Gather as much data as possible through documentation and observational analysis and encourage participation in interactive workshops, focus groups and 1-1 interviews – apply this method throughout the change lifecycle.

Tip: Use customer and employee insight as a reliable source of data for continuous improvement.

Tip: Repeat steps 6 –9 regularly, until all your changes have been delivered – and always repeat step 10.

Tanic has worked within a number of industries and have helped businesses adapt their culture to disruptive, evolutionary and revolutionary innovations, improve employee satisfaction and enhance productivity.

If you need help to run a culture change project in your business, contact Tanic today.


Paul Nicholaides




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Tanic Ltd

Tanic Ltd

Discovered in a Yorkshire vineyard is Tanic, the small consulting business focused on creating operational effectiveness through Targeted Problem Solving.