Building a Culture Plan - Who’s right for the job?

After my last two posts, I’ve had a lot of questions about building a Culture Plan.  One has come up more than any other.  Who should have the job of building it?  As is often the case, the answer is often different from one organisation to the next.

In the early stages of a culture change, we usually recommend forming two groups; a Steering Group and a group of Culture Champions.

  • The Steering Group is responsible for the governance of your culture change. They plan and coordinate the process.
  • Culture Champions are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Executive and eventually their trusted advisors on culture.  Chosen because of a natural tendency to role-model the behaviours and values of your Target Culture, they may not be senior but their enthusiasm for the culture change is infectious.

Back to building the Culture Plan.

In larger organisations, it is often a group of quite senior people, guided by the Culture Champions (and informed by data from the cultural diagnostic) that do it. This group has representation from all major teams, ensuring they are properly represented in the Culture Plan.

Note: this includes the Executive! Throughout, you must have the Executive's appetite & backing. You get this through regular dialogue and by ensuring they are represented in the planning group.

When the Plan is built, the Steering Group usually goes on to own it, though in some cases they will build it too.

Let me share two very different examples.

  • In one organisation we work with, the Steering Group & the Culture Champions are the same group. Some were identified at Focus Groups (which we use to unearth the deeper meanings of diagnostic data). They were highlighted due to a clear aptitude & appetite for culture, attunement to their part of the organisation & desire to contribute to the change. Others were selected later based on the same criteria. This group is building the Culture Plan and will go on to own it.
  • In another (comparatively small) organisation, a different approach is working very well. The company is small enough that the Culture Champions collectively have a clear sense of the business & easy access to the Execuitve.   Around 70% of the Culture Plan has been developed by them, with the close guidance & backing of HR and the Executive.

Something else to consider…

In itself, Culture Planning is powerful. Those involved will not go unchanged!  The conversations, exposure and feedback involved, the influencing required to achieve conscious, constructive compromise, is highly developmental.  It builds muscle, in the planners & in the organisation. They are likely to become a highly regarded, influential group.

Expect to surface hidden gems. Use this opportunity to develop talent you know you have, and to discover talent that is hidden.

Who will build yours?

Written by:
John Crossan

Culture Consultancy, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching

October 11, 2023