If you are a change leader, chances are you’ve heard this phrase “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” What does this mean exactly? While your strategy may be fully functional on paper, without understanding the culture (and cultures) of the workplace, that strategy may fall short in making change stick.

You’d better have a clear understanding of your company’s work culture (and cultures) before you ever embark on a change initiative.

Here are 4 things to consider regarding culture change in order to ensure a successful change.  

1/ Cultures vs culture

A large scale major change will necessitate a shift in culture in order for the change to stick. In other words, a big change requires a change in cultures. Organizations are made up of many micro-cultures that come together to make up the overall company culture. Therefore, it is the changes in the micro-cultures change leaders should be focusing on. Start by identifying the micro-cultures in all key stakeholder groups that are impacted by the changes.

2/ Map culture shift by stakeholder group

Certain stakeholder groups will require a bigger culture shift than others. Mapping this by stakeholder group will give you a perspective on which change strategies and tactics you’ll need. It will also give you a chance to determine the priority level and effort needed. This will ensure you’re addressing the real effort required.

3/ Culture shift happens at Rock Bottom

Change happens as a process at various changes. The “real” cultures are tested and revealed at Rock Bottom and during the “Danger Zone” when people are most challenged. Focus your efforts especially during these stages of change for the greatest impact.

4/ Measure the journey

Keep a simple visual dashboard of the individuals and teams through the various stages of change so you know when to implement your culture shift strategies.


Use these ideas and tools and you’ll be able to make your change stick because you will be effectively dealing with the toughest aspect of change: cultures.