Culture change in the experience age

12 February 2020Rosie Barrett

If you’re new to the Experience Makers, welcome! If you’re a subscriber, you know the score. Each month we bring you a meaty discussion around some of the hot topics of the day for Experience Makers. 

If you’re new to the Experience Makers, welcome! If you’re a subscriber, you know the score. Each month we bring you a meaty discussion around some of the hot topics of the day for Experience Makers.  

Whether you are a marketer or technologist, this episode is for you. Culture change is one of the hardest parts of digital transformation, but arguably, the most important. Tune in for some fantastic advice and tips from Gemma Milne in conversation with our experts, WPP’s UK Strategy Development Director, Lisa Humphreys and CEO of Grey Consulting, Leo Rayman. 

The Experience Makers Podcast link

To get the most out of The Experience Makers, we really recommend that you download, listen and subscribe. However, if you want to know more about what you’ll be hearing, read on. 

Photo of  Gemma, Leo & LisaNot just 'soft metrics'

When thinking about culture, people often consider the soft touches such as free breakfasts or fancy slogans graffitied on walls, but there’s a far deeper definition. Lisa explains, in all organisations there is a need to consider the way you operate, which has to come from the business strategy itself. It Therefore, it goes without saying that businesses can’t transform without culture change. However, more often than not, change management isn't necessarily identified as a priority. 

Leo adds that many companies address culture change as a response to an existential threat around disruption or wider market trends. However, it needs to be a never ending process. 

Let's not mess it up because it’s doing so well... actually that’s exactly the time you should drive the change to the next. 

Leo Rayman, CEO at Grey Consulting


There has to be some level of process

Fluidity is key. Those companies that have an ability to accept, adopt and adapt their thinking are the ones that will succeed, but you have to consider a process. 

Lisa suggests that this should start with data. When considering culture, there are a variety of data points to draw upon, so you’ve got to talk to your people. You have to listen to your staff and understand your customers to get that culture right. And once you’ve listened, you have to communicate. Leo talks about ‘the power of stories’. People tell stories about good or bad things that have happened which carry through an organisation. Finding ways to articulate and tell the stories of the world you're moving towards can be a powerful driver for change. 

Letting data inform your stories is a winning combination. Implementation can be tricky, and while stories are relatable and capture the imagination, data holds people accountable for their actions.  


What should a 'culture plan' look like?

As simple as it sounds, communication really is key. There needs to be a clear narrative around the changes. Change is never easy and can make many people feel uncomfortable. People need to feel that they are part of what’s happening. Being more effective and efficient in communicating will go a long way.  


Who's doing it well?

Leo delves into Netflix's promotion of their internal HR principles. You can read Harvard Business Review’s 2014 article on How Netflix Reinvented HR explaining how they shaped their culture and motivated performance. 

Lisa goes on to discuss potential issues around the disconnect between the culture at the top of the company and the experience within the organisation. She raises some great points, relating them to experience businesses, so make sure you listen in full!  

Photo of Leo, Gemma & Lisa in the recording studio

'Benefits' and 'culture' are two different things

Culture focuses on the motivations of employees to work in a way that’s best, not just for themselves but for the company and their customers too. The conversation touches on the need for diversity, it can’t be about collaboration between people with the same experience, looks or opinions. Rules need to be set around the organisation to ensure that inclusivity and flexibility are baked into the DNA, and everyone can bring their whole self to work.  

Great cultures have commercial value – they succeed more often. And when a culture is strong, positive and successful, people focus less on salary and their benefits package because they can see the very real benefits of enjoying their working lives. 


So where should you begin?

You need to really understand what you believe in, authentically. What is the culture you want to create? If you know it and its intrinsic to your soul, it's really easy to live up to it.

Leo Rayman, CEO at Grey Consulting

This is a great quote to round this discussion off. Don’t pretend to be someone or something you’re not. With of the massive transformational changes happening in business today, we must understand and put a priority on all our individuals, customers, stakeholders and even future employees. Ensuring that these people are diverse in their offerings can change a culture extremely quickly, and really should be something that everyone is now focused on.  

So, what do you think? Make sure to subscribe and listen to hear more on this topic, that really is an important part of any transformation journey's success.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

Author: Rosie Barrett
Published: 12 February 2020
CMSculturecustomer experiencedigital transformationchange management

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