Meri Armour, CEO of Memphis-based Le Bonheur Children's Hospital describes the culture-shaping initiative that began at the pediatric hospital in order to create an environment that enabled the strategic goal of providing patient and family-centered care. As the positive results spread across the hospital, the system leaders across the eight-hospital healthcare system Methodist Le Bonheur determined it was essential to create that consistent culture across all hospitals and the enterprise.

Smart leaders help shape their company's culture — instead of allowing the culture to shape the company. CEOs who have been most successful at shifting their company culture have an acute awareness of and focus on four principles for successful culture change.

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business results and culture are closely linked

Culture plays one of the biggest roles in the success or failure of all strategies and initiatives and in financial performance.


A dysfunctional culture is why most major system implementations are behind schedule, over budget and fall short of expectations. It is why new organizational structures don't fully deliver on the promise. It's why new CEOs often fail, and why safety and quality issues persist. It's why companies that don't have service cultures struggle to support growth.


The Jaws of Culture

Early on, we coined a phrase to describe this phenomenon. We called it the “Jaws of Culture.” All organizations, no matter how successful, have historic habits. While well intentioned, some of those habits get in the way, especially when strategy or operational structure changes or when stretch goals are needed. We call these cultural barriers the “Jaws of Culture.”


Dysfunctional organizational habits act like jaws in the culture that can chew up your strategies and initiatives. Some common examples:

  • Turf issues, trust issues or silos get in the way when changes require collaboration across the enterprise.
  • Passive-aggressive resistance shows up when major changes need to be implemented quickly.
  • People blame others or make excuses when results aren't where they should be.


Strategy, structure and culture

We also noted that cultural traits often got in the way when organizations wanted to implement a new strategy or change the structure, such as from a holding company to more of a shared business model. When the strategy of an organization changes, the culture is usually a step or two behind. This lag is like an anchor on a boat and slows progress.  


The Senn Delaney process removes the jaws eliminates the lag and creates the right behaviors to best support your business initiatives.


Watch video with Senn Delaney Partner and EVp Bill Parsons discussing why strategy, structure and culture must align