Many companies try to implement strategic plans knowing that these plans might clash with company culture.

When this classic showdown occurs, there are only two options: change your culture or renounce your new strategy.


Facing the Fear

If you’ve decided to go the way of changing your company culture, you may get goosebumps just thinking about it.

You might wake up in the middle of the night, short of breath, imagining the four horsemen of the apocalypse—those formidable challenges standing between you and the change you want to implement—stampeding your way, heralding the end of days.

Whoa, there. Before you endure another sleepless night, let us help explain how to defeat those horsemen.

Horseman 1_cropped

Horseman 1: The Threat of Nonalignment

This horseman provokes confusion, taking advantage of the absence of a homogenous assessment of reality.

Without a correct analysis of what’s happening, this horseman sows seeds of doubt everywhere it treads, provoking a sense of frustration that ends up demotivating teams.

To combat this horseman, we recommend a co-creation session, where key stakeholders build solutions together.

The end result of this session, represented with visuals, allows everyone to stay united around this communal assessment, eliminating confusion and augmenting the predisposition to change.

Culture Crush Game WorksheetWhere do I start? Download our “Culture Crush Game Worksheet” to get a snapshot of your current company culture.

How to Play: Best as a group activity. Ask your team, “On what organizations do we have a culture crush?” Think about companies that people often talk about emulating. List them in the hearts on the worksheet. Then note the reasons why you have a crush on them. Next, think about what organizations are the antitheses of the culture you want. Fill in the drops on the worksheet and note why for each.

Horseman 2_croppedHorseman 2: The Danger of Not Defining a Vision

The second horseman creates “lost souls” due to a lack of vision. This horseman’s apparition generates panic in your teams, forcing them to chaotically scatter in different directions.

The best way to avoid this is to define a common vision. You must also share this vision with the rest of the organization so teams can collectively visualize the desired destination.

Magic Snow Future Perfect Method CardWhere do I start? Download our “Magic Snow Future Perfect Method Card” to take the first steps to defining your path. Help your team(s) quickly envision the future and see commonalities and differences in their visions for the future.

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Horseman 3: The Error of Not Designing a Plan

Horseman 3 paralyzes people in the absence of a plan. It sows skepticism everywhere it rides, imparting a sense that the vision is just a flight of fancy and everything will continue to stay the same.

To battle this horseman you’ll need to collectively structure a plan that clearly delineates how to travel from your current situation to the vision of the future.

This plan will require different levels of action tailored to all the teams that are affected.

Multi-tiered Strategy Method CardWhere do I start? Download our “Multi-tiered Strategy Method Card” to start designing the different levels of action—separate the elements of strategy, tactics, and management. This method card is intended to enable a team to sift their long-term initiatives between strategy, tactics, and house-keeping activities and then push their thinking up a level.

Horseman 4_croppedHorseman 4: The Plague of Not Investing in Strategy Activation

This last horseman is the most lethal because it can slay all your plans. It provokes a generalized “nothing is going to change here” sense of desperation. It’s a stealthy presence in that organizations hardly pay it any mind. You might call it a plague.

To combat this horseman, invest your energy and resources in strategy activation. Through road maps and other strategy implementation devices, everyone will know what’s expected of them, making it easier to monitor and reach agreed-upon milestones.

Who, What, When WorksheetWhere do I start? Download our “Who/What/When Matrix Method Card” to start delegating actions among all the teams involved.

Move Forward with Change

Despite its difficulty, it is possible to change your company culture. Identifying the main dangers—those four horsemen—will help you better anticipate and defeat the threats.

If you know how to fight the four horsemen of the apocalypse, you’ll lose sleep no longer.

Interested in learning more about culture change? Check out some of our culture posts and podcasts.