LEARNING ACTION RECORDING: LEARNING'S ROLE IN SUCCESSFUL CULTURE RENOVATION - 12/10/20

This week’s Learning and Development action call was an interview of Kevin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of i4cp, by Tom Stone, a Sr. Research Analyst at i4cp. The focus was on Oakes' forthcoming book, Cultural Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company (McGraw Hill, 2021). Here are some highlights from the call:

  • Culture is often seen as an ethereal, amorphous trait of organizations, one that is difficult to define, measure, or change. So i4cp undertook research in 2019 to try to determine what makes some companies--only about 15% according to a survey with over 7,000 participants--successful in changing their culture.
  • Many refer to culture change as a transformation, but far more often it is more of a renovation--keeping some key elements of the culture, while changing others. For example, often some core tenets or values are retained, while other aspects of the culture are altered to ready the organization for the future.
  • Microsoft was one of several companies (e.g., T-Mobile, 3M, and many others) highlighted in the book. CEO Satya Nadella's leading of a culture renovation has made a huge difference not only for Microsoft's employees and customers, but for their ultimate business outcomes: it has gone from a company widely seen as on the decline, to one of three most valuable companies by market valuation.
  • Oakes emphasized the importance of taking the time to listen to your workforce in order to best renovate the culture. Another important step is to look for the influencers and energizers in the organizations, and ideally leverage Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) as often these are not the individuals that leaders assume. Similarly, you need to locate the skeptics and blockers, those that will hinder your desired culture changes.
  • Of note for L&D professionals, Oakes noted that the i4cp research found that companies that are successful in their culture renovation are 7.5X more likely to train not only their top-level leaders, but also directors and managers, in the expectations for them in the new culture.
  • It used to be that knowledge was power; now knowledge-sharing is power. Oakes said he's always been a big proponent of user-generated content, instead of solely rely on the L&D team to create learning content alone. Instead, incentivize and recognize leaders and other top talent to share their knowledge and experiences.

Please also see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.


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