Culture is not a numbers game

culture

Culture is a hot topic. Not only has the connection between organisational culture and profitability been firmly established, but also boards and executives are learning the increased personal accountability they have for culture.

In this climate there is naturally a search towards solutions. High on the list of the various life rafts being offered are “culture surveys” and/or culture scores. In much the same way as customer experience professionals have witnessed the rise of NPS and other methods of measuring customer satisfaction and advocacy, these methods provide a satisfying packaged way for leaders to monitor something they don’t truly understand how to influence.

But after the satisfaction of a tangible tool for measuring culture fades, leaders are left with a series of questions they are still unable to answer:

  • What is our culture?
  • How do I influence/improve culture?
  • What factors are causing our culture numbers to go up (and down)?
  • And ultimately, am I encouraging a culture that puts me at personal risk?

Irrespective of what any numbers person will tell you, quantitative data won’t tell you why the numbers are the way they are, what factors are influencing them to change, or which or the many things you could do will have a positive impact on organisational culture.

What is required is a qualitative approach that allows you to probe into the story behind the numbers, to substantiate the ‘what’ with the ‘why’ so you know ‘how’ to improve things. Human-centred design provides a range of tools to enable leaders to make structured exploration to better understand and change culture.

Organisations need to not only measure culture, but also understand it so they can influence it.

Our ‘Leading human-centred organisations’ workshop in Sydney on 21st March provides insights and examples for how leaders that truly wish to understand and influence organisational culture should go about the task. See https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/leading-human-centred-organisations-sydney-tickets-56152281987 for more information.