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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.

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senn delaney is the original culture-shaping firm

Formed in 1978 with a mission of creating healthy, high-performance cultures

   On Dec. 31, 2012, Senn Delaney began an exciting new chapter in its evolution when it was acquired by Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., the premier provider of executive search, culture shaping, and leadership consulting services worldwide.

Senn Delaney was founded as the original culture shaping firm in 1978. It was well ahead of its time since the term “organizational culture” didn't yet exist as part of business terminology. The new firm was an outgrowth of a business process consulting firm, Senn Delaney Management Consultants, founded by Larry Senn and   the late Jim Delaney 10 years earlier.

View video of Senn Delaney Chairman Larry Senn describing our history of exclusive focus on shaping cultures

 Two things prompted the creation of Senn Delaney as a culture-shaping firm. The first was an observation from the early, more traditional consulting work. In attempting to implement strategies and initiatives, Senn Delaney Management Consultants' leaders observed that companies, like people, had personalities and habits. Those collective habits and behaviors of organizations caused good ideas to either fail or succeed. They concluded it was often easier to recommend a performance-enhancing change than it was to get people to work together to implement it. The second was curiosity about that phenomenon that prompted research into this uncharted territory: Larry Senn's doctoral dissertation in 1970. It was the first systematic field studydone on the concept of corporate culture.

Research leads to development of a unique culture-shaping methodology  

The early to mid 1970s were spent developing the foundation of a culture-shaping methodology. Senn Delaney Management Consultant's engagements were used to test in a real-world business environment ways to create high-performance behaviors to support change initiatives for clients. The success of that early work led to the creation of a new company, Senn-Delaney Leadership, in 1978. It was founded with a stated mission of creating healthy, high-performance cultures.

Senn-Delaney Leadership leveraged a central finding of the research: a concept from the dissertation called “The Shadow of the Leaders.” From its inception, this culture-shaping model was based on a belief that culture change begins at the top of an organization. When an early retail client wanted to create a service culture, it was guided to begin the process at the top with the CEO and senior team, not just in the stores at the associate level.

Senn-Delaney Leadership also found that one of the most powerful ways to shift thinking, hence behaviors, was to give leaders new insights or ‘ah-ha's'. That finding, combined with pilot work on its application in business, led to development of an insight-based learning model that helped unfreeze old habits. The resulting process and its impact on leaders and organizations set Senn-Delaney Leadership apart from every other consulting firm.
Senn Delaney has been enhancing the culture-shaping model as a core competence for nearly 40 years, creating a comprehensive, integrated culture-shaping model, DURAM, which includes five elements of culture change: Diagnostics, Unfreezing, Reinforcement, Applications and Measurement.
The diagnostics and measurement capabilities were expanded through the acquisition of Hughes Research, a leading work culture measurement firm. The availability of higher speed Internet capability and wider access to computers by clients led to investment in a proprietary online system, SD Connect, which connects the firm's clients to its culture-shaping process in a variety of ways. Reinforcement content has been created, including the eCoach® and Senn Delaney's Web-based culture-shaping Resource Center. In recent years, added focus has been placed on ensuring that the measurable improvements in cultural qualities fully translate into better business results.


Culture Drives Performance Image