The PROPEL SYSTEM of Culture-Driven Performance

May 23, 2021 Jamie Notter

Our new coaching program is unique because it is rooted in a comprehensive system for integrating culture, strategy, and execution. More on the details of the system below, but to really understand our system, it helps to look back at the evolution of our work over the last 10 years.

Ten years ago Maddie and I were writing our first book, Humanize, in which we laid out the basis of a new model for organizations and management that makes more sense in the post-industrial world. The model had three layers to it (behavior, process/system, and culture), and for several years after the release of Humanize, we focused on the culture layer, since that was the deepest layer of the model. This focus on culture included writing our second book, When Millennials Take Over, complete with case studies of organizations with ridiculously strong cultures. During this time we also created our WorkXO culture assessment, which paints an even clearer picture of what the “future of work” is starting to look like at the culture level.

Once we created our assessment, our work then shifted to doing intentional culture design inside organizations. That involves uncovering hidden culture patterns and then running “plays” in a culture playbook that shift the culture to be more aligned with what drives success. Now that we were working with organizations to implement their plays, our work shifted again, and this time we turned our attention to both strategy and execution.

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I have long argued that strategy and culture are two sides of the same coin, and this is why our culture change work is specifically tied to organizational success. Culture must always be aligned with your strategic success drivers, so many of the plays our clients were running were designed specifically to bring culture and success (i.e., strategy) into alignment. We quickly discovered, however, that an equal number of plays in our clients’ playbooks were more focused on the execution side, like improving project management or sharpening decision-making roles. Just as culture can’t be separated from strategy, culture can’t be separated from execution either.

This was consistent with our own experience. Like many entrepreneurs, we adopted a system for integrating strategy and execution to help us drive growth (we use Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish, though there are several similar models out there). The discipline in Scaling Up’s focus on quarterly strategic thinking and rigorous execution metrics has been instrumental in our own growth as a company. That’s when we started connecting the dots.

Scaling Up is an integrated SYSTEM for sharpening strategy and elevating execution, and our culture design work is a SYSTEM for managing culture, but what we really need is a system that integrates all three.

So that’s what we created.

The PROPEL SYSTEM for Culture-Driven Performance is a combination of these two systems. It is a single system for ensuring that culture, strategy, AND execution are continuously aligned and integrated. The system has a foundation to it. For culture, strategy, and execution, there are certain building blocks you must have in place:

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Culture. You must be able to sense where your culture is generating friction, and then respond with process, structure, or technology changes that will improve results.

Strategy. You must reduce your strategic thinking cycle down to three-month increments and maintain a strategic line of sight, from short term to long term, that everyone connects to.

Execution. There must be zero confusion about accountability and clear systems of information flow and metrics that speed up execution.

With that foundation in place, the system then enables you to zero in on your unique performance roadblocks. Maybe it’s conflict avoidance, or a dysfunctional senior team. Maybe your long-term strategic vision needs sharpening. Maybe lack of role clarity is slowing you down. Whatever you are facing, our system provides a framework for identifying, prioritizing, and busting through these roadblocks.

We think this is the best system for improving organizational performance out there, and that’s why we built out an entire coaching program around it, including group coaching, private coaching, and organizational coaching, so associations of any size can participate. Learn more about our coaching program here, or contact us to set up a call.




Photo by Ian Schneider

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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