Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How do you Quantify Culture?

Harden the softest; and soften the hardest.

Culture is intangible, but directly makes a significant impact on the effectiveness of strategy execution; culture is invisible, but it’s the most powerful fabric surround businesses today. Is culture measurable, how to quantify culture? Or does the measurement really help you solve the culture puzzles?

Understand both the internal and external aspects of the workplace. The first step is to get a baseline read of the culture. This can be done using any number of tools or asking a series of questions that get at the hard of what is working and not working. Then assess the culture again 6 months later using the same questions to assess progress. there are many tools available on the internet to track your performance on cultural aspects. Most of these would focus on doing a survey with a set of questions and provide you with a quantitative analysis based on responses.

Understand more about if/how to measure progress in the cultural aspects of an organization; and if there is a framework or model of culture you use to promote, perhaps it is an oversimplification: ask the staff and the other stakeholders, you need to involve the employees in the solution, rather than "lock yourself in an executive suite."  Applying effective tools with the idealization feature that allows the culture change team to solicit ideas on general or specific culture improvement issues directly from the employees, have the employees vote and comment on the ideas they like the best, and then provides transparency through the culture planning and change process by tracking which ideas have been accepted and their status, etc. The skill is in the ability to gain sufficient trust for honesty to prevail, so you can revisit time and time against the same respondents. Then it's about what matrix you use to measure and the ability to respond positively with transparency and stay with it for the long term. 

Culture is important to focus on and to have honest and purposeful conversations. The key is creating an environment where people feel safe and will share. If they don't feel safe, they will spend time protecting themselves or pretending to be happy, looking over their back and second-guessing. This will directly impact bottom-line performance, innovation, and business results. Then help them make a bunch of changes that encourage the culture you'd like to see, remembering to lead by example (what you do, not what you say).

Organizations need to make sure they are asking the right questions in the right way. When surveys are needed, the quality, content and bench-marking capability of a survey measure can be incredibly important. Nearly three decades of research linking culture to performance, and experience identifying the precise drivers of culture and building global normative databases for comparison have proven essential to helping organizations assess areas of focus and greatest need. Chances are, organizational culture is at the root of the inefficiencies you have observed. Awareness of those cultural roadblocks helps shape the organization’s change mindsets, habits, and behaviors.

 The key things to measure are end-to-end outcomes for the business; which includes how well the products/services are being delivered/received, customer/staff satisfaction and market/financial performance, the common understanding of culture in the organization. It's not usually possible or sensible to quantify how much they are down to cultural change (too many factors, including external market conditions). And it isn't necessary either - the cultural change should be obvious to everyone or it hasn't really happened.

Culture is measurable, but culture is more than quantification. Does culture really need quantifying - if you need to survey it to understand what's going on that might simply imply the sign of a disconnected leadership: get out there back to the floor and sit with your people to properly understand what they really do and how they experience the culture? The culture thing includes feelings and emotions that you will know by the level and transparency of the conversation. Untangle the culture puzzle, and see it from different angles.


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