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Driving Cultural Change

Dr. Wendy Heckelman will be presenting on behalf of

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 A Case Study on Culture Transformation
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Driving Cultural Transformation During Large-Scale Change

Every organization has a culture. It is important to consider culture during any large-scale change effort (e.g., mergers, integrations, organizational restructuring, and field expansions) for two important reasons: 

  1. Culture can be a primary source of resistance to change. Unless elements of an organization's culture are directly addressed, such as existing beliefs and work practices, behavior will not change and the status quo will be reinforced.
  2. Cultural transformation efforts can be an important strategic lever to drive the change effort. Cultural transformation can be used to create alignment between the organization's values and beliefs, and the goals of the large-scale change effort. 

To successfully drive cultural transformation, WLH uses the following five principles:


I.  Culture change takes place more effectively when worked at three levels: organizational, team, and individual.

Best Practices:

  • At the organizational-level, senior leaders need to clearly define, model, and reinforce the desired culture to build commitment to the future mission, vision, and values.
  • At the team-level, the focus needs to be on translating strategic goals into team responsibilities and then address the impact of these changes on individual work teams.
  • At the individual-level, the personal dynamics of the transition should be addressed, e.g., identify specific behaviors that individuals need to start, stop, and continue doing to be effectively aligned with the new strategy.

II.  Culture change is accelerated by connecting individual beliefs to organizational results.


Best Practices:

  • Help employees clearly see the link between their own beliefs, how they act, and the results of the organization.
  • Ensure leaders create experiences that shape and reinforce the desired individuals' beliefs, e.g., create experiences to support decision making of direct reports if you want them to believe they are empowered to make decisions.

III.  Cultural Change requires a planned and disciplined implementation cascade.


Best Practices:

  • Use a cross-functional project team to customize the communications and execution cascade to all groups of the organization.
  • Develop a cascade that works with each level to ensure every group defines the experiences and actions required to produce desired results.
  • Provide leaders with management tools such as role definitions, metrics, and incentives to reinforce cultural change.

IV.  Culture Change is accelerated by using a "Leader-led Learning" approach.

Best Practices:

  • Ensure leaders have the skills to cascade beliefs and take accountability for driving culture change.
  • Provide leaders with a set of tools to use with their teams for identifying core beliefs, actions, and experiences to guide desired results.

V.  Technology should be leveraged for communication, measurement, and reporting successes related to cultural transformation.

Best Practices:

  • Develop measures of core beliefs to ensure the adoption of change by leaders, teams, and individuals. Track changes over time with baseline measurements and ongoing surveys.
  • Leverage various technology platforms to support the overall communications plan.
  • Ensure measurements and reporting can identify gaps, provide an overall picture of the organization, and share successes and lessons learned.

These principles draw on classic theory and practice for effective organizational change. Our approach also includes a unique emphasis on the role of individual beliefs, a disciplined implementation cascade, and leader-led learning to drive adoption and create sustainable change.

Using these five key principles will help with aligning and leveraging your organization's culture to support large-scale change initiatives.

Please contact WLH Consulting, Inc. for more information on cultural transformation and how to produce effective, lasting organizational changes.  Email: Wendy@wlhconsulting.com, or feel free to call (954) 385-0770. 



Feel free to contact WLH Consulting, Inc. for specific information on best practices and lessons learned to apply to your organization.


Wendy Heckelman, Ph.D.


WLH Consulting, Inc.

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