Enhancing Culture


For over a century of modern warfare, ground troops have been supported by close air support (CAS).  For instance, the Army’s ground troops are supported by the Air Force’s covering fire.  Either option by itself wouldn’t be guaranteed to have the same effect and efficiency. Both must be employed.  

The process to usher in positive change within and organization, enhancing culture, is quite similar. There isn’t one set way to begin enhancing culture.  But there’s one way that successful culture enhancement efforts end. It always ends with air cover (leadership) and ground support (project teams) playing an active role.

The Senior Leadership Only Approach

The biggest impact on culture can undoubtedly be from Senior Leadership.  Especially when it comes to the CEO’s edict. A change to the culture will never happen without Senior Leadership. Senior Leadership, however is not enough.  Poor change typically sees leaders using their influence to try and roll out the change across the business unit or function.  Way too soon. Without seeing small successes, even senior leadership can’t overcome the way we do things around here mentality that defines culture.

Read Also: /The Soil of Culture

Enhancing Culture
Using only one of these approaches can stop culture enhancement in its tracks.

The Project Team Only Approach

Change can definitely start with the spark of one project team. The spark gets larger as adjacent departments see the success and the pull effect begins to take hold.  People in adjacent areas begin saying “Hey, I want to do that in my department.”   This spark will eventually flame out if not fanned by Senior Leadership.   Large change will require a Champion to help the change to scale past the initial business unit.  

Both Leadership and Teams

When Senior Leadership ushers in the change, they should make sure to patiently wait to scale.  Allow time for successes to gradually catch on with pilot projects. One at first, then two. Then maybe four. Next, try eight.  Then consider going outside of the function or business unit.

When a project team attempts to usher in change, while ensuring the success of the pilots, their attention should also be on obtaining a Senior Leader level sponsor.  Someone to champion the change across functions and business units.

No matter how change (culture enhancement) begins in the company, the change must be supported by leadership and through successful projects teams.