Myth busting #5/5: Changing our culture doesn’t require a change in decision-making structure

Aart Willem de Wolf Published at

As I conclude this 5-part series busting myths around the challenge of steering company culture, it’s time to consider the truly holistic nature of the task. Company culture really is an organisation-wide matter. Every single process feeds in to shaping it. Familiar legacy structures which just seem like part of the furniture could well be the enemy lurking within …

Company Culture Myth #5: Changing our culture doesn’t require a change in decision-making structure

A company’s decision-making process is essentially its beating heart. Pumping the permissions and instructions to execute plans throughout the organisation. Just like any heart, it needs to be compatible with the blood being pumped. In the context of a company, that blood is the culture. So if your culture changes, your decision-making process needs to change too. They both need to follow the same principles.

Let’s say your new company culture expects everybody, at every level, to be accountable for their behaviours and actions. If an individual has to go through multiple layers of management to get a decision on an everyday matter, that destroys the sense of accountability in everybody below the person who does the final sign-off.

The chances are your new desired culture is intended to bring greater speed and efficiency to operational matters. But if your decision-making process is slow, clunky and bureaucratic, that takes the wind right out of everybody’s sails. It will actually demotivate them in their efforts to adopt the requested behaviours because commitment to the cause is not being demonstrated throughout the organisation’s processes.

The remedy? Take a good, hard look at whether you’re running a legacy of unnecessary documentation approvals and authorisation levels. Is your decision-making structure and process living the same culture you expect of your leaders and employees? Or are these scraping against one another in a painful and damaging way?

In conclusion:

Ensure meeting structures and decision-making processes are aligned with cultural strategy and desired behaviours.

Want it all in one place?

All five of the myths busted in R&G’s examination of shaping company culture can now be read via my posts. If you missed any, you’ll find them at #1 Of course we are aware of our own culture’, #2 Once everyone knows our values, the culture we’re aiming for will follow, #3 A self-contained culture training programme will do the joband #4 ‘Leaders must always demonstrate perfect behaviour’. Easier still, you can get the full story in one place by downloading R&G’s white paper  Company culture: Mastering the Art of Herding Cats.

Herding Cats Whitepaper image

Aart Willem de Wolf is Managing Partner at R&G Global Consultants in The Netherlands

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