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Company culture has been one of the most defining characteristics of organizations over the past 30 years- shaping the actions, values and behaviors you want to see within your walls, and equally as important, supporting the execution of your business strategy in the marketplace.

Initially, a company’s culture was intended to last the lifespan of the organization. Not today!

Change is Today’s Constant

Today, change is one of the only guarantees you can count on-and this applies to your culture too. Company cultures must change to reflect societal trends, shifts in the marketplace including customers, competition and innovation, and more.

But, what do you do when you have an amazing culture and have to adjust your strategy to better anticipate (then meet and exceed) market trends and customer needs? You need to ask yourself if the current and amazing culture-the one you know and love-is the right one to support the new strategy. Odds are you’ll need to change the existing culture to support the strategy you’ve set in place. You may need to let go of yesterday’s success to create tomorrow’s victory.

The Only 3 tips You’ll ever need for Real Culture Change

1. Let purpose be your guide.

While strategy and company culture should be fluid, your purpose should stand the test of time. Make your purpose broad enough to weather technological advances, clear enough to set you apart from the competition and strong enough to rally your troops to support the organization through change. Answering the question of why you exist isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

While we must be ready to shift gears faster and more frequently than ever, there is a critical focal point for your culture change. Your purpose. Your organization’s purpose- the reason why your business exists-should serve as your guiding light. In spite of the changes that every business must adjust to on a daily basis, to be successful, you must never abandon the reason why your company exists.

Let’s take Nintendo for example. Nintendo’s purpose has always stood for entertainment. The company was founded in 1889-yes, that’s 1889-and first produced playing cards. But as the world shifted from in-person to digital gaming, Nintendo shifted too. Throughout it all, Nintendo continued its purpose as an entertainment organization, seguing the products and services offered to meet the changing interests, needs and demands of its tech-savvy customers.

So be like Nintendo! Ask yourself, “What are we willing to give up or change to remain true to our purpose?” The most successful organizations are making adjustments to their strategy and their culture on an ongoing basis. It’s the only way to remain competitive.

2. Your strategy should change with the times.

You need to do more than simply respond to the marketplace. You need to build a strategy that keeps you ahead of the curve. You must anticipate your customer’s needs and be one step ahead of the competition. Are customers using a new technology or app? Revise your strategy, putting an emphasis on R&D so you can quickly integrate that technology into your products and/or services before anyone else. Facing new demands from shoppers? Adjust your strategy to arm your frontline with the tools, skills and knowledge they need to make your CX better than the best out there.

With each and every shift, let people know why the change is necessary for big picture success and what it means to them.

When you’re detailed about what actions and behaviors you’re looking for and what winning looks like, you’re likely to have everyone on board.

If you’re not sure how to communicate the “why” behind your change, here are some tips:

  • Put yourself in your people’s shoes. You must consider change from the perspective of your people, from the frontline to the managers to IT and finance and beyond. Fully thinking through how the change impacts everyone across the business enables better engagement because there is clarity around the outcomes needed by each group.
  • Show empathy. Showing empathy during change is critical to accomplishing your desired goal because, let’s face it, change is scary! Leaders can help minimize fear through communications, including town hall meetings and one-on-one conversations. Make sure people understand the new rules of the road-what they need to do differently in their processes, behaviors, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Prep your managers. It’s equally important to ensure managers are prepared to lead people through the upcoming transition are ready to provide the right level of clarity for individuals on their teams.
  • Celebrate the wins! Be sure to convert the early wins, no matter how small, into success stories people can understand.
  • Never stop talking, sharing and doing. Sustainment is everything, so be sure to enable ongoing dialogue at all levels of the business to demonstrate a commitment to the change that is authentic and healthy.

3. When strategy shifts, so should your company culture.

When your strategy changes, which it inevitably will, to reflect changing desires and needs from your customers, you must adjust your culture too. This ensures the actions and behaviors you want to see within your organization support the new roadmap. But, don’t just announce a strategic change and expect people to automatically adjust their behaviors to create a culture that supports the new direction. Start at the top! Once leaders set the tone, demonstrating the actions and behaviors you want to see, your people will follow their example.

Want to stay in business? Then say “yes” to change. Your strategy-and the culture that enables your people to execute it successfully- must change if you want a shot at staying ahead of customer needs and marketplace trends. Let your purpose-your why-guide your organization through the inevitable shifts, turns, and challenges. Your purpose, not your culture or your strategy, is your new constant.

We are living in a world where change is inevitable and ever-present. Strategy, culture, products, and services will change over time. Purpose and change are the only constants. Are you ready?