Working Culture

De-mystify the culture shift at hand!

Behavior, Habits & Assumptions

Creating a culture shift should not be complicated, mysterious, and grandiose. Our take on corporate culture is that when managers take practical action on a day-to-day basis to gradually instill new behavior in the organisation, it will take you to an entirely new culture over time.

It is easy to get carried away by spectacular new culture framework, assessments and programs to promote a new way of being. Such programs may have it’s place, to create awareness and excitement. However, without the daily action by managers, the programs will not yield impact.

This is, like many things in business, simple, but not always easy. It requires courage and honesty. The first step is to look in the mirror, and take a look at who you are, really. What are the behavioral shortcomings? The bad habits? Maybe you have some blind spots that needs to be revealed.

It may also be useful to understand the “underlying hidden assumptions” that Edgar Schein wrote extensively about in his seminal work on corporate culture, as they drive the behavior and explain why it is hard to change certain habits in organizations.

The gap between how you behave, and how you should, or could behave, is the target for work on culture.

How we create a Working Culture

To be able to “take a look in the mirror”, to observe our own behavior, it can be useful to borrow taxonomy and models from frameworks on National Culture, such as Hofstede or Erin Meyer – the culture map. It is useful for many reasons. First of all, you are probably part of an international organisation operating in international context. So your corporate culture is flavored by different national cultures. And these frameworks allows us to put words on and understand the behavior we observe. Is it related to communication? Or is it behavior in regard to decision making? How do we think about and act in regard to power and management hierarchy?

When we go back to understand Corporate Culture, we can work on the values, beliefs and behavior in the day to day business. Inspired and guided by Edgar Schein, we can discern between the “espoused values” (that we find in the values statement, for example being customer centric, innovative, demonstrating integrity) and the actual behavior. Understanding the gap between the espoused values and real behavior allows us to identify what managers and leaders need to do to support a culture shift.

The road to changed behavior is paved with courage, honesty, and reality-checks. Not always easy, because when we try to put our finger on the desired behavior, it is not so easy to articulate. You may want employees to be “more entrepreneurial”. But what does this mean in real business situations? How do you actually want people to behave in regards to customers, or internal decision making, risk taking etc. The number of different kind of situations are many, and interpretations of meaning equally so. The value comes from the experience of exchanging on the topic, not from an absolute definition of culture, values and behavior. In the end, it is about how to do business, and how to work together.

Simple, but not always easy.


Organisations where leaders are pulling in different directions under the surface suffers from tension, friction, and inefficiency. This dynamic undermines trust, the top leadership may be perceived as saying one thing and doing another one (even though it may be done outside of awareness and with good intentions).


Engaging into an Exploration and Discovery beyond the obvious creates engagement, builds trust, and establishes mutual understanding. This in turn provides the right conditions and readiness for Change in the organisation, and sets the stage for initiatives, projects, and programs to be successful.

How we help

A good way to start is a half day or full day workshop with the leadership team, to Explore and Discover new perspectives and different interpretations of the Change & Transformations at hand. It allows for tangible output that leads to concrete actions, as well as increased self-awareness for the leaders, that guides next steps to take.

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