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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Changing a culture is a complex and challenging undertaking. Many well-intentioned efforts achieve only superficial change that cannot be sustained, often due to a narrow or incomplete vision of the existing culture and a lack of a plan to align it with the company’s strategy and vision. But by getting a clear view of the existing company culture, senior leaders can better articulate what their culture could be, identify immediate areas of focus, and continue to shape the culture to achieve the desired results.


The key is to start by mapping the company’s journey toward lasting change along a “culture continuum,” a series of common transitional phases, or levels, that we’ve found represent important inflection points. By visualizing culture change in these terms, senior executives can more easily plan interventions, anticipate challenges, and help avoid the sense of complacency that can creep into even the strongest and most successful organizational cultures.

Companies across most industries are adopting digital technology to boost performance, respond to changing customer needs and gain competitive advantage. But this opportunity has also accelerated the pace of change, disrupting business models. The cultures of many organizations aren’t prepared to change, or change fast enough, to seize the opportunities that digital affords.


This article examines why senior leaders will have greater success if they first create a cultural foundation of organizational agility and a growth mindset before embarking on transformative strategic changes tied to digital technologies. It describes the key principles that will enable the cultural shift needed, and examines the experiences of three companies in very different industries that have successfully enabled a digital strategy by creating cultural transformation around agility.

Most of us have fallen into the habit of not being truly present. We are often so caught up in thinking about the past or the future that we lose our ability to be present in the moment.  The consequences of this common behavior are very far-reaching: we are less creative, we don't listen well to others, meetings are less effective and decisions are not as creative. Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn shares a simple, yet powerful concept to increase personal effectiveness at business and in your personal life — Be Here Now.

Because culture can directly affect performance and business results, understanding how the organization manages and measures culture should be part of the board mandate.  This point of view is explored by Heidrick & Struggles Regional Managing Partner David Boehmer and Senn Delaney Partner Mike Marino in one of the topics in our 2014 compilation of Heidrick & Struggles Governance Letters. Topics in the report ranging from how board governance and company culture intersect and assessing the merits of an activist investor’s point of view.

Through a collaborative, groundbreaking study with three prominent U.S. business schools, Senn Delaney discovered that people who operate from a unique set of three core principles consistently perform at the top 10% of performance ratings. The joint study and subsequent research and surveys led to creation of a new, evidence-based, practical performance model that can be taught, practiced, reinforced, applied, and measured. 

 As the US healthcare system shifts focus to outcomes rather than products and services, pharmaceutical companies are feeling their way toward a new business model: patient-centricity. Continuing pressure on the old model and the business benefits of adopting the new model will accelerate the drive toward patient-centricity, but new strategies and new organizational structures will not be enough. Top leaders will not only have to develop innovative patient-centered models, they will also need to achieve enterprise-wide change in strategy, structure and culture as well as introduce the new leadership competencies that patient-centricity requires.

Manufacturing and engineering companies have a strong history of driving innovation and productivity through process improvement and a rigorous focus on quality, cost and delivery. Ian Johnston, Senn Delaney partner and managing director, EMEA, examines the kind of culture and mindset needed for manufacturing companies to enable process improvement and enhance spirit, performance and competitiveness.

A highly satisfactory customer experience has never been more critical to businesses to stay ahead of the competition. Senn Delaney Partner and Executive Vice President Bill Parsons examines that state of customer service and satisfaction in America and helps leaders consider whether their company's culture is really as customer-centric as it should be. He provides best practices for methodically shaping a customer-centric culture as well as examples of recognized leaders in customer service, and how they created a sustainable competitive advantage.

The banking industry that historically has changed at a conservative pace now is trying to address massive changes that require agility and innovation. Many big banks, including Deutsche Bank, Citi, Barclays and Lloyds, are responding to calls for reform with sweeping culture change strategies to restore trust, accountability and put customers at the forefront. Facing narrow margins, tighter regulation, a digital and data revolution and wary customers, big banks are forging new business models, transforming operational processes and re-orienting around service.

But when it comes to making culture change actually happen, big banks run into some disconcerting challenges. Cultures typically resist making the changes they most need. Resistance can be particularly hard to overcome in financial services organizations, many of which have default cultures that are decades old. To help financial services leaders understand what it takes to successfully shift a culture in the wake of broad calls for banking reform, this thought paper examines these unique industry challenges in detail and provides a framework for successful, sustainable culture change.

Despite rem arkable achievements and breakthroughs, the biopharmaceutical industry is confronting massive upheaval and transformation. Culture change is one of the biggest and most important issues in the industry as traditional ways of doing things must give way to innovative new approaches, technologies and processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness. This article delves into the answers to critical questions, including:
  • What principles should guide organizations in their efforts to shape cultural change?
  • What types of capabilities must leaders possess to bring cultural change to R&D organizations?
  • How can organizations bridge the gap between the skills their leaders possess today and the skills they will need going forward?

A sound, strategic communication and engagement plan, led from the top and guided by a Communications Culture Action Team, can greatly influence behaviors and drive successful culture change. Conversely, ineffective, inadequate, poorly conceived and poorly timed communications can actually create resistance to change.


This article provides Senn Delaney’s best practices in guiding organizations to create communications action teams and a strategic plan for communicating culture change that engages employees at all levels of the organization.  

CEOs and their senior leadership of most major corporations are usually highly proficient individuals who run their business units or functions efficiently but they may not work as well together to guide the overall firm. Consider how your senior team and how members might more effectively meet eight requirements of a healthy, high-performance enterprise leadership team. 

Mergers and acquisitions are a fact of life in today's highly competitive global business environment. Unfortunately, up to one third of mergers fail within five years, and as many as 80 percent never live up to their full potential.

A great deal of evidence indicates that the ultimate success of mergers and the amount of time it takes to get them on track is determined by how well the cultural aspects of the transition are managed. Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn shares insights on how to systematically and consciously avoid cultural clash to gain the most synergy from any merger or acquisition.

Culture Drives Performance Image