Even when most of the “right” ingredients were implemented, most corporate culture changes fail anyway. And the quintessential trap is always the same: the culture of a company is a multi-layered assemblage. Work on one layer at a time (such as the behaviours) and you’ll have results. However, after a while, other layers that were unchanged (values, vision…) will collide and counteract the initial results. These various elements of corporate culture move at different speeds. They don’t even have the same plasticity and are driven by factors that can be very counter-intuitive. In the end, avoiding a full-stack approach to corporate culture change is a rookie mistake. Let’s see then how to deal with it…

When DNA resists culture change

DNA is the nature of the organisation, it doesn’t change ever (apart for some rare successful hybridisation). It is simple and drives the complexity of the culture. It comes from the birth of the organisation: its founders, ancestors and time of birth. For organisations, we can use many ways to look at its DNA. We chose to focus on its drive: future-driven, market-driven or process-driven.

Culture is a more complex package of interdependent elements moving at different speeds:

  • The values evolve with time but very slowly;
  • The vision is adapted to context and evolving markets;
  • The norms and behaviours can change fast or slow depending on activation, drive and coherence with DNA.