Defining and designing the future culture via an immersive and creative workshop

Introduction

The Chief Marketing Officer of a newly formed Global After-sales division of a Fortune 100 Company (already widely acknowledged for their engaging, progressive culture) identified the need for their divisional culture to be re-shaped and refined in order to facilitate successful delivery of its strategic plan.  

The Desired Outcome  

Was to engage the leaders of the division to understand, agree and articulate the future culture they needed for their next stage of growth. Not only did the culture needed meet with the spirit of the overall global organisation; support a newly launched Diversity and Inclusion initiative; it also had to draw together employees from five continents, and create a shared definition of the culture that will define their people’s behaviour, attitudes and outcomes.   

The Objective 

The Chief Marketing Officer was conscious that successful delivery of the new culture needs to start by obtaining the full buy-in and engagement of the 60 leaders of the division.  To coincide with their global leadership summit in Chamonix; they asked Culture Consultancy to: design and deliver a one-day workshop to shape the new divisional cultural tenets.  The key was to fuel positive discussion and debate whilst ensuring good levels of engagement and ownership for the outputs of the day, including: 

  • Identification of shared values 
  • Shaping the divisional culture within the spirit of the existing Group culture 
  • Developing an understanding of how the new tenets would be embedded across the Division 
  • Obtaining leadership commitment 
  • Alignment to their recent diversity and inclusion initiative 

The key to a successful outcome was in inspiring and engaging people to work together to develop and deliver a culture for success.  

The Approach 

Insight 

We were away that 1 day with 60 leaders was not going to be much time to set the tenets and engage the leaders so we conducted a shortened version of our CC culture assessment to understand as much about their current culture and future desired state as possible. We designed a pre-event survey comprising of a mixture of both textual and visual questions in order to inspire a set of key engaging responses and to provide critical insight into the degree of readiness and attitudinal clues around the culture.  Whilst providing insight the questions also were designed to stimulate thinking around the future culture required and a potential cultural change journey, all in preparation for an intensive Cultural Immersion event 

Design & Deliver  – The Workshop 

We designed and delivered a workshop to shape the new divisional cultural tenets and gain full buy-in and engagement for the new culture.  The key was to fuel positive discussion and debate whilst ensuring good levels of engagement and ownership for the outputs of the day, including: 

  • Identification of shared values 
  • Shaping the divisional culture within the spirit of the existing Group culture 
  • Developing an understanding of how the new tenets would be embedded across the Division 
  • Obtaining leadership commitment 
  • Alignment to their recent diversity and inclusion initiative 

The workshop was designed to be, “away from the norm” and a little “edgy” in order to tap into a more creative element within attendees and to encourage them to move away from the existing ‘way we do things’.  As such, the leadership teams engaged in a variety of experiential activities; carefully designed to provoke leaders to explore both personal and organisational approaches to their leadership going forward.  The experiential activities looked at 3 core aspects.   

  1. A painting exercise to unlock their desired personal leadership legacy.  
  2. A Vision Boarding exercise to shape the environment and type of organisation they wanted to be part of in order to achieve their legacy, paying particular attention to how best to fully leverage their newly launched Diversity & Inclusion programme
  3. A Tribal Mud Mapping exercise to articulate the Divisional culture going forward.  

The levels of creativity and passion unleashed as part of the workshop was inspirational, powerful and contagious.  The whole room felt different, as did the leaders themselves.   

Harnessing this new level of energy and creativity we worked with the leaders to define and anchor the pillars of their new culture . 

The Cultural Tenets 

Fun: we inspire joy and laughter 

Collaboration: We maximize the power of the team by leveraging diverse partnerships 

Curiosity: We engage in open exploration, generating new insights to grow 

Diversity & Inclusion: we courageously embrace the richness of others and ourselves to grow 

Passion: We love what we do and are energized to make a meaningful impact 

Authenticity: We are true to ourselves and each other by being genuine, approachable and receptive 

Freedom: We empower our people through purpose and an open mindset 

Simplicity: We product work that is easy to explain, easy to understand and easy to act on 

Embed 

Having achieved the event objectives, we then provided post event support to a core group of leaders to design the follow up, engagement and embedding activities which the leaders could use to start embedding the new culture into their teams. Work ongoing 

The Result 

The Executive Team were delighted to be coming away with a set of clearly defined Cultural Tenets and with the contribution and commitment levels of their Extended Leadership Team; and in particular how energised and enthused the team were to start implementing the new divisional culture. The sense of purposefulness was palpable; with Leaders going away with a clear sense of direction, action plan and personal pledge to the Division.  

A few Quotes from the day 

“Outstanding exercises and outcome, good finish for the two previous days, where everything got together, we set up a very good foundation to take our division to the next level”  

“Great to see our VP  wants to develop our  culture”

“Awesome exercise with an extremely actionable outcome. Key is we own it. I hope we’ve got the freedoms to own it and to be a little different than the rest of the corporation.. We’re  the one team here that, in my experience, takes true ownership of a strong independent culture”

“I especially enjoyed the Legacy painting section where we heard from each person and what was most important to them”

“We wouldn’t have been nearly as creative without that process”

“Appreciated all the activities to bring the ideas to life – especially since it was the 3rd day. Again, next steps to come!” 

“Really drove home and crystalized the ideas from the prior days. We needed that to cap off the discussion”

“Much credit to the facilitators as I felt after two days of training, some of the group was struggling with engagement/energy be it jet lag or just the effort from the previous two days. This group kept of focused and helped us identify areas for improvement that aligned to our values as well as what our team members asked us to address. I valued the creative element to the module — asking us to think about culture differently than we typically do. No standard brainstorming, deep analytics of a survey, weeks of team meetings to address a topic … instead we dug deep, used skills and tools not often applied to our daily jobs (paint pens, rocks, leaves, ivy?!?) and came up with meaningful culture commitments and goals”

“My most favorite topic that week… using the right brain to think big… loved it… replicating with my division week after next…”

“This was OUTSTANDING!! There is lots of research that shows the highest performing organizations take the time to intentionally shape the Culture they need to achieve success. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. I could NOT BE HAPPIER with our focus on deliberately shaping the culture we want (and need) in GASD to be successful. GASD is THE place I want to work at within Caterpillar!!”