My thanks to Diana Barea, Managing Director in Accenture Strategy’s Talent & Organisation Practice for the inspiration behind this blog.


Culture transformation programmes are ten-a-penny in businesses across all industries. That’s no surprise. The pace of change—technological, economic and competitive—means all large organisations must now think very differently about how they operate and the way their people work.

For banks, some extra pressures are pushing them in this direction. Tougher post-crisis regulation has introduced multiple layers of complexity and bureaucracy into their businesses. These can get in the way of agility and responsiveness. Personal accountability for decision-making can stifle spontaneity. And traditional hierarchical structures encourage rigidity (and discourage innovation).

All this at a time when disruptive competition from non-traditional sources poses a hugely potent threat. Bank leaders know they must adapt or lose relevance. They have to encourage their people to collaborate better, have greater trust in leadership, make decisions rapidly and, crucially, be more agile and innovative at every level of the enterprise.

Culture change is an agenda we hear all the time in our work with financial services businesses. And in this blog—the first in a short series—we’re introducing what we’ve learned from experience. The bottom line? Culture change is the outcome. Transforming how business is done is essential to make it happen.

Whatever the organisation, the primary objective for culture change is the same: getting back to your ‘prime’. Or put it another way: As businesses mature with age, looking ahead entails looking back. Improved agility and responsiveness hinge on rejuvenation and re-energisation.

We identify five core ‘beliefs’ that are key to making this happen. In this blog, we’ll introduce them. Next time, we’ll examine them—and what they look like in practice—in greater detail.

Firstly, culture change must be insight-driven. As a baseline, businesses need a laser-sharp focus on where they are today, how they’re behaving as an organisation, and how well they’re doing against key measures. That means a data-powered approach is essential. It’s not enough to base culture change programmes on a few engagement surveys or sentiment reviews on Glassdoor. Precision is critical. And that includes understanding how employee behaviours are being reinforced in their day-to-day jobs—and how to change them.

Secondly, successful culture change programmes put people (customers and employees) at the centre. Linked to this is the third key belief: They’re also co-created. That means leaders, colleagues and employees at every level need to be involved in shaping and enabling change. It’s the only way to build and sustain trust in the organisation.

The fourth belief: Recognise how tiny changes can make a massive difference to performance. It’s all about understanding the cumulative effect these changes will have. That means experimentation. Hypothesise, prototype, proof of concept, scale. Repeat.

Lastly, embed change everywhere. That means leaders must be demonstrably committed, living out the change and embodying it in everything they do. It’s through their example that others will be encouraged to shift their behaviour.

Next time, we’ll take a closer look at these beliefs. Meanwhile, thanks for reading.

 

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