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CultureMapping™ - Our Platform to Drive Sustainable and Meaningful Culture Change

Alan Siegel

Executive Coach

Mar 1, 2023 | 9 min read

In our work with Senior Executives and their teams, the focus on culture is becoming integral to business success. Crenshaw developed CultureMapping™ over a decade ago to give leaders a quantified view of the cultural beliefs at play in their teams and organizations, and this tool is used at the forefront of shaping influential culture.

Nowhere have the results been more valuable than in our onboarding and integration practice, where results from our tool have enabled new leaders to integrate with their teams more quickly and jumpstart their impact within their companies.

Our CultureMapping™ process gives teams a platform for in-depth discussions on team culture, a foundation for targeted and effective action planning, and a directive to sustain these actions for the long term.

What is CultureMapping™?

CultureMapping™ measures how ingrained a company’s culture is across 5 cultural dimensions and 32 cultural factors. The summary of this data gives a precise definition of the cultural elements common to a team and where there is little agreement.

Using these results, Crenshaw facilitators guide leaders and their teams through sessions discussing the cultural shifts needed to accomplish business goals, what the leader can do to promote those shifts, and what the team can do to realize their business goals faster.

C-Suite leaders have found that the CultureMapping™ process enables them to have more powerful and rich conversations about the current culture, its impact on the business, and what cultural changes need to be made.

Teams Need a Platform to Discuss Culture

For organizations to positively influence their culture, they need to give their leaders and teams the proper platform to discuss the culture and how it impacts their role, even at the most senior levels.

New C-Suite leaders gained immense value from our process during their integration. They experienced firsthand how conversations on culture and its impact on strategy helped their business.

Culture is difficult to define.

Teams need a common language to begin their journey, so we begin with a diagnostic survey that probes cultural aspects of their environment and highlights factors that they feel impact their culture. With this survey, we provide them the data, analysis, insights, and platform to bring forward topics and feelings they didn’t know how to articulate or didn’t have the time or context to talk about in-depth before.

Equipped with these tools, high-energy, collaborative discussions provide teams with significant candid facetime with their new leaders, where their feelings about their experience with the culture are legitimized in real-time.

The survey analysis identifies cultural factors that the team has in common. Topics such as accountability, how inclusive an employee feels the company is, and expectations of upward mobility within the organization resonate with the team. We also explore how all of these topics impact strategy.

Holding formal sessions and giving their shared experiences a name and definition backed up by data empowers and unites the group. The key that we provide is putting the proper process and structure in place, guided by an experienced facilitator, to validate the examination of the milieu of their work environment. The effect is that leaders are willing and motivated to invest time and resources to develop or correct specific courses of action.

The CultureMapping™ process is equally as important to the leader’s progress. Understanding the culture accelerates a leader’s road to productivity. When a leader is new to the company or, in cases of promotion, new to the team, we position the survey so that the leader is evaluating their previous culture (the culture that they’re most recently accustomed to), while their team is providing its perspective on their experience within the current culture.

This allows us to define two things for a new leader:

  1. What can they expect in acclimating to their new role?

  2. How can they affect change and make an immediate impact toward reaching their long-term vision?

The data about a team’s experience provides leaders with an understanding of how the team will react to changes in vision and strategy. When we assist leaders in acclimating to their roles, we highlight the cultural challenges and advantages of their new role in comparison to what they are accustomed to from their previous role. The facilitation provides them with a prime opportunity to learn what the culture is, how their team thinks, and what strategic insights they can offer.

This opens a lane for the leader to decisively take a direction immediately. The platform accelerates the leader’s impact by broadening the conversations beyond what they might have been and expediting the gathering of critical information regarding how the team operates.

By immediately laying out their vision for the company and the strategy required to get there, the natural question is asked:

"What is in the culture that will support or hinder the team from moving in that direction?”

Using the results from the initial facilitation, the leader can begin to plant seeds of ideas for transforming the organization. When exploring factors such as strategic focus and common purpose, the leader can springboard off that conversation by saying, “Well, let me share some of my initial thoughts on this…” as a launching point to identify the cultural attributes they feel are most important to the business and how to best leverage them.

Once the platform has been set to give teams a voice to influence the culture and a new leader a chance to set a clear vision, it becomes important to set clear roles in the process of implementing these changes. The momentum generated in these sessions must propel the group to create an action plan and then be sustained between the current and the next meeting.

As a facilitator, we present the pertinent questions, but the responsibility primarily falls on the team to do the work.

The Interconnection of Culture, Strategy & Execution in Action Planning

One point we emphasize regarding CultureMapping™ is the connection and critical throughline of culture, strategy, and execution. For this throughline to stay connected, the leader must take the committed stance that the team takes the next step to synthesize all of the analyses and feedback into a meaningful plan that they can react to.

This is when a new leader has the opportunity to voice their expectations and to see how the team reacts. The leader’s primary charge is to support the team in developing very concrete action steps with measurable progress and to make a point to revisit the plan at follow-up sessions.

In our work, this process sparked high engagement, immediately identified areas where changes in action or habits were needed, and discussions identified actions to move the important cultural attributes forward.

Part of our role as the facilitator of these sessions, is to translate the team’s shared verbiage used to describe their workplace using the CultureMapping™ factors. In one instance, the leader used a very broad term to describe a characteristic of the company culture he did not want to lose. The term was an amalgam of several specific factors, but identified something that everyone in the room understood.

Rather than trying to redefine this shared experience to fit our preset factors, the time was better spent soliciting feedback from the team on how to preserve these attributes through sustainable action. By adapting the analysis to fit with their familiar terms and framework, we increased the group’s understanding of how the analysis promotes effective action planning.

We often see leaders directing their teams to develop action plans on how the team culture can support strategy.

Specifically, the primary factors that leaders have keyed in on are:

  • Strategic focus

  • Agility

  • Common purpose

They are sending a clarion call to be clear and consistent, as a senior team, around a direction and strategy.

Leaders are all about Agility. They want their teams to be faster. Action planning allows the team to review the data, zero in on what it means for their team to be agile, and determine what is hindering that growth.

For one team, that meant digging deeper into the non-bureaucratic factor. Their action plan pursued ways to break down the silos within the organization, increase their score on the Alignment factor to be in closer agreement within the various groups, and reduce the number of meetings to achieve that alignment.

Another operational team felt that having a seat at the table with the business organizations would better support an increase in pace. This required looking closer at factors such as decision-making and Inclusiveness to more effectively involve this team in the process changes required to be more Agile.

Leaders quickly realize that simply mandating the team to become more agile isn’t a singular element, but rather a larger endeavor that involves cultural factors that must be addressed before their agility can be reshaped.

Prioritizing an Agenda to Sustain Action

Sustaining change is the most challenging aspect of these engagements. Providing feedback is intended to promote thinking of ways to sustain change and help the leader build it into the fabric of the way the team handles their future agendas. Everyone’s role must be teased out and they must embrace their responsibility in the continual reshaping of the culture. This is achieved through team meetings, candid discussions, monitoring shifts, remeasuring with a follow-up CultureMapping™ survey, and fully utilizing this data to impact the execution of the business strategy.

The critical success factor is sustaining the headway made during the facilitation. This often calls for follow-up sessions with the facilitator to action-plan, track progress, or hold accountability sessions with the group responsible for sustaining these actions.

For the leader, sustaining meaningful action will require balancing the focus on strategic factors with dimensions of the culture that may not directly tie to their goals but are critical to their team’s experience. In guiding the progress, the leader needs to balance infusing their own ideas of a vision and ensuring the team’s views are coming across. Finding this balance gives attention to all parts of the action plan that address achieving the vision.

For example, what are the enablers of the leader’s strategic focus? Exploring whether the group needs to be more courageous can lead to developing an environment, over time, where calculated risks are accepted or employees are given the latitude to make difficult decisions that would breed more innovation.

During the action planning process, not only should the team outline concrete desired outcomes to identify the appropriate actions, but they should include the best way to sustain those outcomes. In some cases, the action plan was made part of the monthly management review of the business.

During our integration engagements, a Crenshaw coach & facilitator will work with the leader to promote the sustainability of the action plan and can be brought back to discuss successful sustainability frameworks with the team as well.

The goal is to solidify the expectations from the CultureMapping™ report and facilitate the communication of a consistent message. The role of the leader is to make culture change a priority moving forward and to hold their team accountable for driving and sustaining change.

When teams can to sustain their action plans, they can achieve meaningful results that are recognized throughout their organization.

Examples include:

  • Accelerated cross-functional collaboration and breaking down silos on key business initiatives.

  • Established clarity of the leadership team’s vision, creating a greater sense of common purpose.

  • Anecdotal evidence of increased efficiencies due to heightened collaboration between teams.

  • Strengthened alignment needed to drive the business, creating a model of team function for the rest of the organization.

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