Culture is critically important to business success worldwide, according to 84 percent of the more than 2,200 participants in the 2013 Culture and Change Management Survey, conducted by the Katzenbach Center at Booz & Company.
Sixty percent of respondents said culture even outranks strategy and operating model in order of importance.
However, there is a clear disparity between the way companies view culture and the way they treat it. Less than half of participants saw their companies effectively managing culture. More than half said a major cultural overhaul was needed, and 96 percent of respondents said some change to company culture was required.
“We knew from our work with clients that culture was important, but the fact that it is consistently considered to be critical to business success across the regions we surveyed, from the Americas, to Europe, to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, is incredibly telling,” says Rutger von Post, a partner at Booz & Company. “The single biggest surprise to me was that a full 51 percent of respondents believe their organization’s culture is in need of a major overhaul.”
Survey findings also suggest strong correlations between the success of change programs and the leveraging (or lack of it) of culture as a driving force behind the efforts. Of those surveyed, only about half (54 percent) said the results of change programs were sustained over time. In fact, the use of cultural levers, such as activation of informal peer networks and the linking of change to organisational pride, made for transformation initiatives that were twice as likely to succeed as those that left culture out of the equation.
“In my view, the most significant finding from the survey is that organizations aren’t leveraging elements of their existing culture to sustain change,” says DeAnne Aguirre, a senior partner at Booz & Company. “We clearly saw that a much more holistic approach, one that leverages assets like informal networks and storytelling, is required if companies want to see the effects of their change programs stand the test of time.”