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Transforming Culture through Practice

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

You'd be hard pressed to find many people to argue that developing a strong business culture isn't crucial for organizational success. By now, numerous studies have shown how a focus on developing culture improves employee engagement, retention, and performance. Leaders or other professionals such as change managers play a key role in shaping organizational culture in a number of ways, but primary by formally instituting practices that align with the organization's values and goals.

Here are three examples of concrete ways leaders can help foster cultural transformation:

  1. Establish clear values and goals: Leaders need to clearly communicate the organization's mission, vision, and values, and ensure that they are embodied in the organization's policies and practices. For instance, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, has a mission to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." These values are deeply ingrained in their operations and decision-making processes, and serve as a guiding principle for the company's culture.

  2. Create a positive and supportive work environment: Leaders should create an environment that is conducive to employee engagement, creativity, and collaboration. For example, Google's office design encourages interaction and fosters a sense of community, with open spaces and meeting rooms that promote creativity and collaboration among employees.

  3. Implement effective change management: Organizational change management provides leaders a framework to plan and implement changes while addressing resistance and minimizing disruption. For example, when McDonald's decided to introduce a new menu and modernize their stores, they involved employees in the change process, providing training and resources, and creating a sense of continuity and connection.

In short, developing business culture is not an abstract concept, but a matter of formal processes and practices that are inaugurated and supported by leaders. By establishing clear values and goals, creating a positive work environment, and implementing effective change management, leaders can foster cultural transformation that ultimately leads to increased organizational performance and employee retention.


Matthew Baker is a Change Management and Learning & Development professional with over a decade of experience delivering user-centered graphic, audio, and instructional design, as well as project management. He holds degrees in Instructional Design, Applied Physics, and Organizational Management.

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