Transformative culture is essential for organisational growth

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Our company’s culture often becomes the linchpin of its success or the anchor of its stagnation. The opening salvo of this discourse is clear: a transformative culture is not just desirable but essential for growth in the disruptive era of technology.

The problem, as identified by Per Hugander, a strategic adviser and professor of practice at Hult International Business School, is that many organisations recognise the need for a cultural shift but are lost at sea when it comes to enacting it. The thesis here is straightforward yet profound: to unlock growth and transformation, organisations must shorten the time to reward when applying new soft skills to overcome challenges.

Firstly, the traditional approach to culture change is akin to dipping one’s toes in the water rather than taking the plunge. Organisations often fail because they don’t commit deeply enough to the cultural transformation process. It’s not enough to introduce new skills; they must be integrated deeply and rapidly into the team’s workflow to tackle the most pressing challenges.

Secondly, psychological safety is the bedrock upon which the edifice of a transformative culture is built. Without it, the fear of failure stifles innovation and collaboration. Hugander’s work underscores the importance of creating an environment where team members feel safe to take risks and contribute ideas, linking this directly to tangible business outcomes.

Thirdly, the application of soft skills to tough problems must be swift and decisive. The longer it takes for team members to see the benefits of new skills in action, the more likely they are to revert to old habits. Quick wins are not just morale boosters; they are proof of concept that the new culture is not only different but also superior.

However, this argument would be one-sided without acknowledging a significant counterpoint. The risk of superficiality. Rapid cultural change can sometimes be mistaken for a lack of depth, leading to scepticism among team members. The solution lies in ensuring that the application of new skills is tied to solving the organisation’s most complex problems, thereby demonstrating their value and winning over the sceptics.

The path to growth and transformation through cultural upgrade is not a leisurely stroll but a purposeful march. It requires a deep and rapid integration of soft skills, a foundation of psychological safety, and a focus on applying these skills to the organisation’s toughest problems.

Just as the opening sentence of this article emphasises the importance of culture in business growth, so does the closing sentence reiterate it: Culture is not just part of the game; it is the game itself. In this game, the swift and the brave are the ones who lead the pack.

As a business and leadership coach, my opinion on this matter is that the true measure of a transformative culture is not just in its ability to solve current problems but in its preparedness to face the unknown. A culture that is truly growth-oriented and transformative is one that doesn’t just adapt to change; it anticipates and shapes it. This foresight doesn’t come from simply applying soft skills quickly but from cultivating a mindset that sees beyond the horizon—a culture that is as proactive as it is reactive.

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