Over the last few months I have been working with several clients helping them re-define their Operating Model at an organisational or functional level.  Now this is not short term, quick fix stuff and requires a level of commitment and patience to ensure that the activity delivers against the strategic rationale or drivers.  One of the early conversations we typically have when thinking through the approach is about recognising and accepting that a new Operating Model is not just a new structure chart with new names, less names or no names in a series of boxes that look something similar to the last structure chart.  Structure is only one part, to be successful requires looking at 3 dimensions that contribute to making organisations what they are and what they deliver.

  •  A structure that is fit for purpose – teams, work allocation, key accountabilities, spans of control and governance that provide a scaleable and flexible organisation or function.
  • Standardised processes that are value adding, efficient, enabled by technology, clearly documented, managed, owned and followed consistently.
  • A culture and appropriate behaviours at every level in the organisation / function that are supportive of and enable the structure and processes you have defined to deliver the value you require.

culture changeCulture is the dimension that is most likely to be missed and certainly the hardest to impact, so for me, it is the most interesting and important.  As a consequence I have been reflecting a lot on the challenge of changing culture within clients, within Kili Consulting i.e. me :-), and at home with my family.  To help me I steal with pride a wonderful definition of culture from a client I was working with.

 Culture = the way we do things around here when no one is looking!

 So what have I learned that I can share to others thinking about embarking on the journey?  From a client perspective there are a series of lessons or principles that I believe are important if you are looking to change, develop or proactively manage the culture you have.


  • Focus on behaviours, make the appropriate behaviours explicit at all levels in the organisation / function
  • Do not dress it up as a “culture programme” or you will be destined to failure – culture is an enabler not an end point….. so…… instead……….
  • Focus on delivering on your priorities as the vehicle to change behaviours e.g. improving customer service, or whatever yours maybe
  • It is driven with both top down and bottom up activity – if you start at both ends you are most likely to drive change in the difficult but hugely influential middle layer
  • You challenge and equip leaders at all levels with the capability and focus to accelerate and embed the changes. Role modelling and leadership is one of the most impactful levers for changing behaviour and if it is inconsistent or ineffective it is probably the biggest blocker
  • But it is not the only lever, so ensure that you look at all the key levers for driving behavioural change.

From inside my own organisation…………………….. blimey it is tough to do it to yourself. Discipline, momentum and encouragement are all hard to generate in a team of one. Finding strategies to share and engage and get support from others is proving to be critical. BUT I have made progress and the single biggest contributor to that progress is focusing on what has gone well, has changed and improved rather than all the things that I have failed to do!

From my family 🙂 – oh my, even tougher!! Lesson one – don’t start with teenage daughters!! However, we are where we are and the challenge of creating greater empathy, personal accountability and reading books over tablets / phones is one I think I am destined to lose but am soldiering onipad and books regardless. I think the lessons are probably quite obvious and I am sure that many of you reading will have far more experience than me, but conversing (and by that I mean mostly listening rather than speaking), is probably the single biggest observation. The other learning is something a good friend passed on – ‘children will follow your example not your advice’. I have never read so many books when not on holiday!! JThe other bit of wisdom that I have picked up recently, pertinent to this conversation, is focussed on habits versus results. There is a great article by James Clear, that I have created a link to on my website, which explores the challenge of creating and sticking to new habits. Get the habit embedded first and then start working towards the results you want.

  • Right girls – one page every day and 1 hour without your phone or ipad!
  • Right Richard – a 2 paragraph short blog every week

Good luck with the challenges you may be facing to change culture or the way you or others around you behave when no one is looking!