by Javier Munoz
When building a strong Culture, the number one challenge is for the whole organization to remain aware of its value, to include it as criteria in decision-making, to live it day in day out, and to take proactive action in caring for it. Culture should be a company-wide effort, but it can be derailed by either the urgency or the litany of daily tasks. For example: After a Culture building event, key takeaways and initiatives that were generated could decay into oblivion if they are not effectively integrated into company processes.
Often times, a discussion about values happens only for the purpose of defining them just to have them posted on a wall somewhere. However, your conversations on a wide range of decisions could integrate Culture criteria including values and purpose, among other things.
Given this challenge, we are keen on the idea of creating simple tools to facilitate these conversations.
As such, the Culture Canvas is a simple tool that allows you to use Culture as context in different decision-making scenarios, such as:
When designing a new product or service – Is the product/service aligned and consistent with the stated values and purpose of the company? Are there any values not yet considered that could push the team even more to excel in delivering the intended value proposition? What actions should be in place to strengthen the Culture that is in charge of delivering the product/service? Are your suppliers aligned with your values and purpose? In addition to a Product-Market fit, is there a validated Product-Culture fit or should there be any adjustments?
When closing divisions, leaving industries, retiring a products/services – These tough decisions could be made in terms of Culture alone. If a division, product, or even a whole industry is not aligned with your organization´s values, there could be grounds for questioning their continuity.
When creating a new internal team or division – Coherent subcultures could form in an organization depending on its role, size, and location. Addressing this tendency directly helps preserve the overall ethos of the company´s Culture.
When merging with or acquiring another company – One of the main reasons for failed mergers and acquisitions is the inability to manage the differences in organizational Culture during negotiation and due diligence. This is critical no matter the size of the acquisition.
To tackle these scenarios (and many more), we recommend the following practices:
- Print the Culture Canvas life-size and glue it to a rigid surface so that you can easily move it around
- Place the Culture Canvas where your team works in design or project management sessions
- Use post-it notes to fill each block in the Canvas. You could color code different situations using colored post-it notes
- Keep these post-it notes on the Canvas for reference in future work sessions
- When making product-market fit decisions that respond to customer feedback or when you are considering the intended evolution of product/service features, ask whether the integrity of the Product-Culture fit is preserved
- When facing a crisis situation, refer to the Canvas for reference. In light of impending chaos, when facing unexpected challenges, following your values is the best course of action
- When doing competitive analysis, assess what values/purpose would make your product/service offering unique
- When assessing your product/service performance, record on the Canvas the most meaningful stories and metrics that express its impact
- When improving your product/service assess what actions should be in place to enhance the Culture that is delivering the product/service´s value proposition
- When product/service performance decreases, assess whether all necessary values are being expressed in the whole product/service value chain
These are only a few tips to get you started with the DH Canvas. It's not easy to navigate the culture waters on your own, but our core competency/expertise is helping organizations do it with alignment, measurement, and sustainability in mind. We offer DH Workshops, a DH Masterclass, and DH Coachsulting to get the most out of the Canvas tool.
Ready to chat with a DH team member to learn more about how we can help your team create a sustainable culture?