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Organisational Culture - Realising Your Greatest Strength

Shona Crooks
February 29, 2024

As MF's Shona Crooks explains, whatever your cultural objectives, the ability to listen, define and instil is fundamental to success.

Different organisations have different cultures and it’s important to retain what makes yours unique.

That said, there are some similarities we can draw upon.

In our experience of cultural development, you can typically apply the 80/20 rule. Or thereabouts.

80% of organisations will have a written set of values. Yet only 20% of an organisation's values will actually have any meaningful impact on people’s behaviour.

Set against this context, organisations come to us for a variety of reasons.

Whether they want to scale their current culture, define and embed values, or are experiencing changes in leadership, with over 20 years of culture experience and research our approach is always the same.

We listen. We define. We instil.

It's all about getting the balance right.

Typically, organisations spend 80% of their energy understanding the issue/challenge - this is what we call “listening” - and then spend the further 20% embedding the desired behaviours/outcomes.

So they end up putting too much energy on listening and not enough energy into instilling.

They don’t do this by choice but by default.

We do the reverse.

When we listen, we’re curious. We do this through a variety of methods to maximise diversity of thought and minimise biases.

The medium in which we listen depends on what’s right for an organisational culture. It could be through 1:1 confidential interviews, focus groups or a survey - and it might be one of these methods or a combination of all three.

Clients might already have this data - like a client we worked with on a recent culture project as they embarked on shifting to an even more inclusive culture. They had already done the “listening”, so we listened to their listening, analysing for any gaps before defining and instilling.

When we define, we’re articulate and we inspire. We agree a set of behaviours/principles/goals that you want your culture to become/achieve through strategic culture conversations and appreciative enquiry.

We dig deeper into the moments when you’ve been at your best and when your culture has faced a crisis. We use these to define or redefine your culture.

When we instil, we’re skilled and sustainable. Through experiential learning, practice, and coaching we equip people with the knowledge, skills and mindset to instil and embed sustainable culture shifts.

Critical to our approach is our fundamental belief in ensuring culture leadership is at the heart of all culture work we undertake. Particularly, amplifying, and empowering Culture Architects.

Culture architects are obsessed with the organisational culture and put a lot of effort into the culture. If they’re not the leader or leaders in the organisation, then they have influence with leaders. Successful culture shifts depend on them.

And lastly, our MF personality helps ensure we deliver. We are friendly, challenging, collaborative…and working with us is enjoyable!

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