For those who want to shape the future the current corporate culture could be “your best friend” or your “worst enemy”, maybe also something in between? Why that? Because culture is the most dominant factor, when it comes to make change happen or not.

Ready for an exercise?

I invite you to a little experiment to explore the potential of your corporate culture. It is very easygoing, just ask a group of people in your organization the following two questions:

“What would you tell a friend – who wants to join your company, how he/she should behave to be the same as all the other people in your company or better, how to behave not to stand out?”

  • Ask your people to answer this question looking back to the end of 2019 before Corona crisis (– make notes in left column)
  • Then ask the same people, how they would answer this question right now, while experiencing an extraordinary time fighting the virus (– make notes in right column)

Take both lists of answers and try to go one level deeper. Ask the “why-questions” as often as possible. “Why do we behave as you mentioned before? What are the underlying beliefs and values, which make us behave in these ways?”

Then mark the gaps between the two lists on your notepad.

Compare the differences and you see the potentials

Maybe in your exploration people describe last year’s culture with: “We mainly think in silos, we try to please our boss, we avoid mistakes wherever possible” and same people answer the second question “Now we are more transparent and care more for people from other departments. During Corona crisis we are less afraid of making mistakes and don’t ask for permission – we tend to follow our common sense.”

If you find remarkable differences like in the example above, then you have explored a huge potential in your corporate culture. You found the real beliefs and values your company can build on when people are out of their comfort zone. It is like finding a treasure, a gift you can use for sustainable developments for future successes of your company.

The underlying assumption says, that during crisis people typically act more according to their real values and follow basic organizational beliefs. You just need to unleash these potentials, which became obvious during the crisis. In good times this healthy organizational mindset is quite frequently imprisoned by structures, corporate rules and rigid role expectations.


So, how to unleash these potentials today?

For transforming a corporate culture people need new experiences. Only these new experiences influence the transformation towards new behavior and a new mindset. Today Corona pandemic gives us the chance to rethink old patterns, to rewrite our culture to become more responsive, more resilient and more accountable. But will these developments sustain? However, human beings and organizations tend to forget positive experiences quite fast when the context has changed. Old structures, traditional behavioral patterns and power games could easily take over again. Therefore, it’s time to act now.

Typically, there are 5 levers how you can influence your culture sustainable:

  1. Create a save space, a supporting context and sensemaking ambitions where people can feel new experiences and continuously build a new mindset – a great process doing this is a method called Rapid Results Change.
  2. Get rid of unnecessary framework conditions like senseless structures, hindering processes and systems and reduce exuberant complexity in your organization. Use agile principles like real customer centricity, simplicity, fast learning cycles and self-responsibility of teams.
  3. Promote leaders whose personal values fit our intended organizational values. People who walk the talk, use their common sense and avoid political maneuvers. And even more important: Get immediately rid of those leaders who poison your intended corporate values by acting against them.
  4. Organize learning and communication formats where people get the chance to reflect their behavior. Use parts of your meetings for authentic conversations about business assumptions, emotions and beliefs.
  5. Support the viral spread out of good stories and symbols for the “new culture”. Stories, which show real appreciation for new mindset and behavior. These stories are shared when people meet for a coffee and tell their colleagues, that they are proud of being part of the company.

Have you also experienced that your people behave different since we all have been affected by the horrible Corona pandemic? Then it is time for an exploration of your cultural potential.

Read more about cultural transformation here.