A New Approach to Culture Transformation

Culture transformation has never been an overnight fix. Building an organisational culture where goals can be achieved and people can thrive is now more complex […]

Culture transformation has never been an overnight fix. Building an organisational culture where goals can be achieved and people can thrive is now more complex than it has ever been.

As our understanding of corporate culture has evolved so too has our response to developing thriving cultures within organisations. Since the publication of John R Childress’s ‘Culture Rules!’ in 2017 where he introduced the concept of culture as a business system, we’ve seen the development of the concept of Culture 4.0 (Source: CulturSys, Inc.) which has radically shaped the current thinking on organisational culture and its critical components.

However if the last eighteen months has taught us anything it is that the world has changed and it will only continue to do so. Just as we’ve seen the acceleration of Industry 4.0 as a result of recent leaps in technology, and the subsequent disruption and transformation during a time of extreme volatility, do we need to rethink the nature of culture with a post-pandemic lens?

Are we heading towards a Culture 5.0? And if so, what does this mean for leaders?

A number of critical factors have had a major impact on cultural perspectives:

The impact of the pandemic

The experience of the last year has caused many of us to re-evaluate, to question our own needs, wants, values and attitudes towards work and what we expect from the precious hours we commit to our professional endeavours.

The trend towards hybrid working has been a direct output of the pandemic and the significant changes to ways of working. As if talent attraction and management wasn’t already enough of a challenge, organisations looking to recruit much needed talent for the future with new skills and thinking, now need to compete with the remote working trend which has unlocked talent from the traditional geographical borders. Surveys conducted show a shift in values and expectations as a result of Covid19 (the Barrett Values Survey) – highlighting the need for communication, strong working relationships and an awareness of values – all critical elements in organisational culture design. Whilst much has been said about the cultural ecosystem, our experience over the last year has demonstrated that none of us can exist in isolation, that all things are connected and we are as much the consequence of external factors as our cultural legacies.

As with all business decisions and strategic intent we must understand context.

New ways of working

The trend in hybrid and remote working has added another layer of complexity to the culture challenge. The old ecosystem has changed. A host of new terminology has entered our lexicon over the last 15 months – zoom fatigue, you’re on mute, social distancing, flattening the curve, the new normal, the big reset….and we must adjust. Response and reaction to new ways of working has been diverse with some embracing the opportunity for greater productivity and freedom whilst others have suffered from the lack of social interaction. As organisations wrestle with the challenges of adapting to a new set of expectations, restrictions and responses, we must all be aware of the potential impact on culture.

There is however perhaps a sliver of silver lining to the cloud of cultural resetting in that by its nature culture has always been complex and not something that can be changed overnight. In the same way that it takes longer to break a habit than it does to form one perhaps all is not lost. Having said that some organisations suffer for years from a legacy culture and no matter how many new leaders are brought in, it doesn’t change without some concerted intervention. It can sometimes be the case that ‘culture is the disease you get if you stay here long enough’.

Population structure

As we look to the future, younger generations, from millennials to generation Zs feature highly when considering the next generation of leaders. As organisations consider succession planning and the drive to develop and recruit the new skills needed in this current age of digital transformation, they must be aware of the expectations, aspirations and influencing factors when selecting their employer of choice. Evidence shows that this generation is increasingly influenced by the social factors which affect where and how they live as much as their thirst for personal and professional development, the need to contribute to something meaningful and a duty of care towards future society and the environment.

Compound that with the younger generation of employees, particularly in the UK, struggling to buy their first home and potentially renting in inner city locations where cars aren’t required, commuting is reduced and accommodation is replacing the traditional office stock, there is evidence of a geographic merging of home and workspace which results in this generation increasingly seeking a familial network in the places where they work. Where jobs are no longer for life and the growth of the gig economy, potential employees are increasingly drawn to organisational cultures which satisfy these complex expectations.

What can we learn from this?

When it comes to organisational transformation, we have to talk about leadership. And of course, culture is not exclusively the responsibility of just the leaders – we all must play our part, but leaders are a critical influence. Said Business School state that the key capabilities for leaders in today’s new age of industry (Leadership 4.0) are:

  1. Lead into uncertainty
  2. Develop the narrative
  3. Enable a sense of purpose

Whilst there are many approaches and processes which leaders can follow when working on transforming their culture, experience can often count for everything. And the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll bring the experience, a collaborative approach and we’ll help not just your leaders but the wider organisation to help you get to where you need to be. And we’ll do it with you, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, helping you and your teams to ‘make it happen’.

How we can support you with culture transformation

At Primeast we’ve been working with and alongside organisations for 30 years, as they seek to transform their cultures. During the process, which can take time to shake off legacy behaviours and which requires the engagement of every individual within the organisation, we employ a number of tools and approaches depending on the specific challenges and stages of the journey.

Our approach has been adapted over time and reflects the demands of the culture as a business system with the added layer of context; a culture 5.0 approach that incorporates the needs, wants and impact of external factors and contributors.


Working with and alongside our clients, as they embark on their journey towards culture transformation we employ a range of tools and methods from bespoke surveys to values assessments which enables a full understanding of the challenges and opportunities and which includes the external context which might be influencing organisational culture. We then work collaboratively to identify the gaps between current and desired destination and we then design the programmes, interventions, facilitated workshops which build alignment, engagement and the skills and thinking at all levels to accelerate culture transformation. Events are created and designed to achieve the specific need identified to make the change happen. Because, while leaders lead on culture transformation it is often those working at the management and operational levels who have the greatest impact on making the culture stick. This is why it is important to equip people with the skills, knowledge and conditions to be able to mobilise cultural transformation.

Supporting organisations in making change happen requires a comprehensive approach and process which encompasses all contributing elements. To find out more about how we can support you on your culture transformation journey, get in touch and speak to a member of the team todayy

Whilst we might choose to design bespoke surveys, there are a number of tools we might use during a culture transformation programme. One of these is the Barrett Values Model, a renowned and proven suite of assessments, because values influence behaviours which create cultures. Find out more about the Barrett Values model and complete the self assessment as an introduction to the concept of values assessments or speak to the team to discuss how we might work with you to create your desired culture.

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