Has Your Business Stalled? Maybe It’s Time For A Culture Change!

Your growth has slowed. Stalled. Possibly even gone in the wrong direction. Maybe it’s the competition, the economy or consumers’ changing tastes. You probably feel like you need a superman solution!!

But maybe, just maybe, it’s your culture.

Are you ready to take a hard look at how you get things done? (or not done?)

All over the country, I lead workshops on culture change for companies that are experiencing slow growth, or no growth, and are seeking a way forward. Culture is vitally important to the success of a firm, yet many leaders ignore or simply don’t understand the role of corporate culture. As I listen to these bewildered CEOs, I’ve realized that many of them are facing similar challenges. Here are some examples:

  • Stall-Point: At one company recently, despite hiring a new sales manager, new business was not coming in and current clients were pressuring the CEO for price adjustments. What to do next?
  • The Entrepreneurial Nightmare: Another CEO had grown her business as an ultra-capable entrepreneur — full of ideas and capable of doing it all. And she was doing it all — her team watched her work hard, waiting to be told what to do.
  • The Merger Challenge: A growth-hungry firm gobbled up many of its competitors only to discover that the downside of acquisitions is the stress of trying to merge several disparate cultures into one amalgamated new one. 

To turn things around, first you need to get un-stuck. The OCAI can help.

At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), when we encounter companies that need to see their businesses in a new light, we recommend the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI). Developed at the University of Michigan by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn, the OCAI is a powerful tool for helping business leaders evaluate their culture as it exists today and determine where they would prefer to be in the future.

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI)

Using the OCAI, participants from management to rank-and-file place their company into one of four quadrants — four very different ways in which companies organize themselves into corporate cultures.

The following two graphs reveal two very different ways two CEOs I’ve worked with viewed the fundamental way their firms do business, the glue that holds their businesses together, the way they grow their business, their leadership styles and their definition of success. OCAI_graph1.png

The company illustrated in the graph on the right is very concerned about its team, collaboration, human talent and the “clan.” Most tellingly, it is rather satisfied with staying that way.

In contrast, the company depicted on the lower left graph is very concerned about competition, growth, reaching out, beating others, delivering results — very market-driven but not necessarily wanting to stay that way.

OCAI_graph2.pngIn fact, its graph suggests that the focus on market-driven results needs to be modified to allow for more innovation and collaboration.

Graphs such as these can be an powerful way to kick start your own visual awakening. Theoretically you may realize it is a good time to change — but behavior change and cultural change are not easy and take genuine, sustained commitment in order to work.

Yes, you can change your company. Here are 4 ways to do it.

First, remember that change is a journey. And it is painful. As humans, we are very happy doing things the way we’ve always done them. To change habits, attitudes and processes is going to take real effort. But it can be done! These 4 guidelines will put you on the right path and get you going:

  1. Create a clear picture in your mind that can be shared in a story about how you will get things done in the future. If you are making acquisitions or merging with other companies, you need to step back and decide what the culture of the new “A + B = C” is going to be. Is this a crucial time of growth and change where you are going to have to become more structured? More market-driven? Or more innovative as you bring in new ideas and new people? Plan out how you are realistically going to accomplish these.
  2. Build a team strategy for moving the organization toward a new way of doing things. This necessitates a lot of people changing. For the best results, let your staff help you build the strategy. This way, they’re invested in its success.
  3. Map out a clear plan about what you will do differently. Who needs to do more? To do less? Who has great ideas if only they were given the opportunity to voice them?
  4. Celebrate every positive step, no matter how small. Do not underestimate the power of praise, celebration and new rituals. Employees at all levels need to feel appreciated and that their efforts in making these changes are being noticed.

Your culture isn’t going to change itself. It has to come from YOU.

If ever there was a time for top-down leadership, this is it. Your employees aren’t going to change if they don’t see you doing it yourself. Indeed, total commitment from you will trickle down to them. Yes, change is hard but what’s the alternative? Staying stuck (the way you are now) while the world passes you by? The times they are a-changin’ and therefore so must you.

Could your business use a culture change? Take a look at this slide show and see if you are ready for your own OCAI.


At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we help organizations change, grow and thrive in the midst of today’s changing times. Specifically, we can help you pinpoint what your company’s culture is today and what it needs to be to take you successfully into the future. If this might be of interest to you, we would like to offer you a free consultation. Please contact us!

From Observation to Innovation


Andi Simon Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants