Changing Culture

Posted on Posted in coaching

snow boarder

Don’t you hate the old “Mission statement” / “Values” / “Vision” day. You know the one I mean. It goes something like this…

Someone at the organisation decides some culture change is needed.

“What we need is a break out day where all get together in a spirit of co-operation and team work and change the culture of the organisation”.

They enlist the services of a consultant who gets all the staff together in a big room, plays an ice breaker game or two, then says something like “OK gang – what do we stand for? What do we as a group stand for? What is our trade mark?”

Then for the next 30 minutes, people yell out things like “honesty”, “integrity”, “team work”, “passion”, etc.

Over the following 30 minutes, the words are grouped, a sentence — a “mission statement” is formed and HEY HO PRESTO ABRACADABRA — THE CULTURE CHANGES!

Let’s face it, some people have been through so many of these sessions they end up giving what they know the executive and management want to hear, and most importantly the behaviour and performance of the staff DOES NOT CHANGE (well, not for more than a few days anyway).

Be honest. When was the last time you did one of these all day Mission Statement time wasters and actually got a real, meaningful, sustainable change in your organisation’s culture?

Culture does not change like this. Culture is a result of a real commitment of people to sustainable success and performance improvement. Culture grows from within people.

It spreads like a kind of “positive virus”. It feeds on enthusiasm. It thrives on passion. It seeks out opportunities to learn and improve to sustain itself. Like a virus it needs to continually seek new “hosts” to help it grow and survive.

Culture is not a mission statement or set of words — it’s a way of life! Culture comes from CONSISTENCY – the consistent, passionate, determined, uncompromising┬ádesire of people (and organisations) to perform.

I once worked with a football team who did the old Mission statement bit EVERY YEAR with each new group of players, coaches and staff.

We got all the “usual’s”: honesty, integrity, humility, team work, passion, enjoyment, etc. We developed a lovely little vision statement: “We will work together to strive for excellence on and off the field in an environment of quality, consistency and fun” (sound familiar?).

Then when we hit the gym or the training paddock, the old behaviours came back — poor performance, inconsistent effort, sub standard attitudes, lack of commitment.

The actions bared no resemblance to the words — the behaviours did not support the vision. The culture did not change, the team’s performance did not improve, the coach got sacked, the CEO retired and five years later, they are still trying to change the culture through the annual mission statement “pilgrimage”.

There is a better way!


  1. Instead of getting everyone together to yell out their favourite words and catch phrases, start with a small group core of people who actually want to change. The desire to change is the critical element in the culture change equation.
  2. Really aim to understand who they are and what they want out of their lives.
  3. Spend some real quality time learning about them and how they work, what motivates them, what they want out of the organisation and what they have to contribute to its sustainable success.
  4. Then work with them teaching them how to maximise their own individual performance and how to work as a highly effective team. Teach them to teach. Teach them how to inspire and how to lead.
  5. Then…provide the core group with the environment and opportunity to “infect” and influence others members of staff. Empower them to engage their team mates in learning and growing. Empower them to drive the change process and the culture dynamic.

Nothing ENFORCED is sustainable.

Nothing IMPOSED creates continuous excellence.

Culture GROWS from within.

Moregold works with people, teams and organisations to develop sustainable performance improvement through our unique, individualised performance enhancement process.

Experience the MOREGOLD difference.

Wayne Goldsmith