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Changing Culture

03 May 2017

It’s been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Strong plans fail, strong cultures don’t. But culture change has proved to be an elusive goal.

One way we can think about how culture change happens is through the metaphor of a virus. On this account, changing culture relies on changing the patterns of thinking and behaviour of people within the culture; infect enough of the right people and new thinking and behaviour will spread and take hold. Culture change as an emergent outcome of changes to thinking and behaviour.

If we look to social media and study how the latests fads and fashions “go viral” it’s possible to see this sort of dynamic at work; a few early adopters, visible and in contact with others, converting their niche interest into a worldwide craze.

However, fads fade and viruses only establish themselves if they can outsmart, overpower or step outside of the immune system of the host.

In organisations, these immune systems can be strong, even hardwired into the fundamentals of how they have been designed or how they are managed.

For example, payment mechanisms that put colleagues into competition - even conflict - with one another, performance management systems that leave the only way to get ahead being better than others not better with them or contracting mechanisms with partner organisations that lead to a game of cat and mouse as each partner seeks to optimise their own position but ultimately only serves to sub-optimise everyone’s.

If that sounds bleak, don’t worry! You can do something about it.

At Easier Inc. we developed the Outcomes Canvas as a way into helping people in organisations and across partner organisations, to understand and address their organisational immune systems. It provides a means for having some pretty simple but searching conversations that lead into fulsome collaboration around a shared intent.

The Outcomes Canvas is also a great place to start any programme of change, helping to surface the limiting conditions that will slow or stop progress later, unless they are brought into the open early and in a manner that allows practical, realistic action to be taken to address them.

You can find out more about The Outcomes Canvas in the video below or by getting in touch with one of our experts at We'll take the time to listen to you and we won’t give you the hard sell.


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