Last week, we published the first installment of our 3-part series on company culture. In that first piece, we began to demystify a concept that I'm calling culture by design. This week we'll explore the essential that my firm provides to clients when building cultures by design with them. Keep in mind, this is just one approach to do the work at hand and it's one that we refined over decades of doing corporate culture work with our clients. I cover it here because it encompasses the work to be produced when doing any sort of cultural transformation.

Regardless of the methods used, or whom you choose to do the work with, you'll want to be sure to create these key work products:

1. Culture by design principles

This refers to a set of leadership principles for use in driving your cultural transformation. These are designed by gaining insights from one-on-one interviews with each member of the senior leadership team. The interviews are synthesized and common themes are identified, and then the magic begins -- a set of pertinent culture-by-design principles are crafted specifically for the organization.

2. Culture baseline

This refers to an assessment and characterization of your existing cultural landscape. This is done through both an automated assessment tool that surveys a cross-section of staff and solicits opinions on the current state of the organizational culture, and a series of workshops with managers and supervisors aimed at gaining their perspective of the organization's current work environment.

3. Culture vision story

This is a compelling and vivid cultural vision and call to action through detailed and explicit story telling. This is created by leveraging the culture-by-design principles developed earlier in the effort and the findings brought to light in the culture baseline work, and, using this material as fodder for a series of shorter workshops with the senior leadership team. The culture vision story is cultivated through the leadership team workshop discussions.

4. Culture transformation plan

A road map that outlines your game plan for cultural transformation. This is developed by identifying the gaps that exist between the baseline and the vision story work. Each gap is translated into a potential project or program initiative needed to institutionalize the culture by design imagined in the culture vision story. A company's culture evolves over time as each initiative is accomplished.

5. Culture by design plan administration framework

A structure for monitoring and adjusting your cultural evolution to ensure total strategic alignment. This is established by identifying the support infrastructure needed to keep the culture transformation plan synchronized with the organization's other strategic elements, including business objectives, goals and market strategies. Typically, the responsibility for maintaining the culture by design is designated and processes for review and modification are put into place.

To close, this is a mere snapshot of the work needed to create a culture by design. But, I hope that it offers enough insight into the complexity the work and the rigor required to do it well. Our series concludes next week with a look at the six cultural levers that leaders have at their disposal to shape their organization's culture by design.

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