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The growing complaints from workforces and customers across the world is amazingly similar no matter the industry.

  • “I do not have enough time.”
  • “They are throwing too much training (or reports, or customer data, etc.) at me.”
  • “Goals are changing too fast (or not fast enough).”
  • “No one cares what I think and/or know.”

Employees and teams struggle to keep up with the blinding speed of the delivery of information, big data insights, disruptive technologies, evolving communication channels, and cultural diversity issues.

The digital transformation strategy was meant to help employees battle these issues, but in many ways, it has accelerated the problems. Employees need the right habits to prioritize, collaborate, create and curate actionable information into successful business results. Businesses often focus on speed and excellence in using and acting on customer insights. Instead, how about acting on employee development insights? The employee journey (investments in developing habits) ensures employee collaboration, engagement, creativity, and innovation can quickly adapt to organizational and market changes. Aligning employee and customer journeys has become the most critical challenge facing global business today. Succeeding in only one of these two journeys creates a severe competitive disadvantage.

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Why are leadership development programs failing at most companies? Deborah Rowland helps answer the question with insights on why classroom-based learning models must be replaced by “journey-based” models. The current failures of traditional leadership development training/programs are rooted in the industrial training methodologies of the university. Ms. Rowland’s research and practice have supported the need to evolve leadership training into experiential programs that aim to change the habits and behaviors of future leaders. We agree that emotional intelligence theory has a great role to play in this new learning, but ACA research and practice has determined that cultural intelligence theory is a more powerful predictor of superior leadership performance and results. Still, Ms Rowland’s work is clearly a powerful improvement over the status quo.

Why is corporate culture now seen as the leading engine of company performance? That’s the topic of Ricardo Semler’s Ted talk, which has been seen more than 2 million times. He proposes that corporate culture and the foundation of learning must realign to the new realities of the digital age: people’s humanity, not machine efficiencies are the core competitive advantage. As Peter Drucker said, “doing the right thing,” deliberating and choosing what to do or not do next is the humanizing decision that defines great cultures with aligned values. Semler looks to redefine that process. How can your company culture be hacked toward this new thinking?

George Westerman is a principal research scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy. He is at the forefront of digital transformation research driving companies all over the world. He discusses the impact of technology changes on business management in this recent Management Review article. His nod to the importance of corporate culture is noteworthy. People, and the organizational culture that contains them, are always at the heart of sustained business success, Technology and data-driven innovations must be accompanied by corporate culture innovations to build and sustain their positive impact.

There have been repeated attempts to save annual employee performance appraisals from the trash heap of failed corporate HR policies. For companies participating in the digital age, it is another example of good intentions from the industrial age that do not fit anymore. The HBR article by Peter Cappelli and Anna Travis explore this failure in detail and why it continues to persist. The question still to be settled is: What is the best way to replace the 50+ year old practice?

A new paradigm in corporate learning circles is emerging. Say goodbye to the classroom and hello to the learning journey. A new article in Chief Learning Officer magazine describes the reinvention of corporate learning into the corporate culture function. It proposes that chief learning officers become chief culture officers, and the learning and development (L&D) department become people and engagement (P&E). Meanwhile, learning needs to change from a one-act classroom event to an ongoing learning journey that strengthens and sustains the company culture. This is a complete reshaping of corporate learning programs into culture campaign programs. It is an excellent article.

Jon Katzenbach has delivered some great advice over the years for those considering culture change efforts in any organization. In the summer of 2012, he co-authored an article that still has great insights—two of which have proven out in our culture work at Arnowitz Culture Agency. First, focus on a few critical shifts in behavior. Secondly, honor the strengths of your existing culture. His HBR article is an excellent introduction to what makes a culture change ‘stick’.

Everyone agrees corporate culture development is important. But how can you tell if a culture change program is working? How can you see if there is any real business impact? How can you measure culture ROI?

David Arnowitz shares insights from his company’s successes in creating a Culture ROI framework in a video from the Shocase presents Creatively Speaking podcast series hosted by Debra Carney.

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Our journey at ACA is focused on improving Corporate Culture–the expression of aspirational values into practical action. A journey fueled by our belief that individual, team and company performance can be improved in synergy with one another. We use our creativity to foster creativity in others ability to solve problems and overcome cultural divides.

The journey has seen our team explore the corporate pain points of recruiting, onboarding, career development, corporate cause, employee engagement, training, best practices, knowledge management, corporate communications, event programs, cultural intelligence and, of course, culture change. The simple truth is–culture runs through all these issues–living our values as individuals, teams, and companies by acting on our values. Let me say that again, acting on our values. It is through ‘doing’ that we can improve or lose what we cherish most in our culture. Identifying the behaviors and practices we want to improve is what true culture change (for the better) is about. From employee celebrations, meeting practices to complex customer experiences–a good culture is the way an organization can quickly adapt to any disruption and/or business problem.

We created this blog to explore the insights of global thought-leaders and the results of our culture practice:

  • Investigate behaviors and habits that improve corporate culture
  • Obstacles to improving culture
  • Criteria for judging culture
  • Role of technology in culture building
  • Corporate culture ROI and impact
  • Happiness metric(s) for your culture
  • Culture impact on different corporate capabilities and functions
  • Review culture program frameworks

The one certainty about this journey is that it will evolve and change. I am certain to return to this welcome post and all our posts, to update and refine these thoughts in light of new insights from outside and within.  For this is the unchanging truth of culture–it is always changing. The real choice is how do you participate in the change.

We at ACA welcome and thank everyone that will join us on this journey!