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Enjoy our At Your Best newsletter featuring our latest case studies from The Corporate Lab, a leadership podcast on creating an inclusive culture at CVS Health, and leadership lessons from Shakespeare.

How to change hearts and minds: Examining four key protagonists of Shakespeare's plays can yield timeless insights about how to manage culture change in an organization.

Listen to the 7th episode of The Heidrick & Struggles Leadership Podcast - “Beyond diversity to inclusion” – an interview with David Casey, vice president of workforce strategies and chief diversity officer at CVS Health.

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execute strategy

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.  


Culture Drives Performance Image