Culture Patterns: The Key to Unlocking Effective Change

April 29, 2024 Jamie Notter

Culture Patterns: The Key to Unlocking Effective Change

In discussing culture change, it’s crucial to introduce the concept of Culture Patterns. These are somewhat like the DNA of an organization’s culture, consisting of the recurring behaviors and preferences that shape how work gets done and how people interact. Understanding these patterns is like having a map in what was once thought to be uncharted territory.

Our work has identified four primary Culture Patterns related to collaboration, transparency, agility, and innovation. Each represents a facet of how organizations operate and interacts with the others to form the overall culture. For instance, a culture emphasizing transparency likely values open communication and access to information, affecting how decisions are made and how trust is built.

See also  What if your culture sucks because your manager sucks?

But these patterns can also include competing commitments—actions or processes that contradict the intended culture and prevent the culture from fully living its values. These contradictions are not merely stumbling blocks but opportunities for targeted change. By addressing the competing commitments, organizations can align their culture more closely with their strategic goals, leading to improved performance and employee engagement.

When you focus on the Culture Patterns, the nebulous concept of “culture change” is transformed into a manageable project with clear objectives and steps. It’s a revelation that can empower leaders at all levels to enact meaningful change, whether refining processes, reconsidering structures, or leveraging technology in new ways. The results can be extraordinary, turning sluggish, disengaged environments into models of efficiency and engagement.

See also  Busting the Myths Around Culture Change

Learn more in our new book, Culture Change Made Easy.

Jamie Notter

Jamie is a co-founder and culture strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders create amazing workplace cultures that drive greater performance and impact. He brings thirty years of experience to his work designing and managing culture, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is the co-author of four popular business books, including the award-winning Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, and his fall 2023 release, Culture Change Made Easy. He holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.