What We Got Wrong About Culture Mapping

Picture of culture mapping loanding.

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room—what does culture mapping for organizational change entail?

Since there is no universally accepted explanation of this, your best bet would be to break down the term to understand the two components that make it up—mapping and culture change.

A simple way to define mapping would be ‘the act or process of making a map‘. When we dig a little deeper into this definition, we find that mapping is a transformation process that works by matching one set of functions or points with another. The same process represents something—such as data—through diagrams or pictures. The mapping process can help you get from one point to another and understand what it will take to achieve a specific objective—such as transformation or culture change.

Culture change, also referred to as cultural change, is the change in a society or entity’s culture or entity due to new findings, innovation, or interactions with other communities/cultures/organizations.

Cultural change is an idea that represents certain internal and external factors that lead to changes in the cultural pattern of a society or organization.

Several sources of culture change exist, and most of the time, it occurs due to innovations, interactions with other cultures, and internal efforts to adjust culture. Often, organizational culture change is the result of the latter.

Keeping the above definitions and explanations of mapping and culture change in mind, we can define culture mapping for organizational change to establish the specific steps needed to change an organization’s culture to improve employee behavior and productivity.

Why Doing Culture Mapping or Culture Assessment the Right Way is Critical to The Success of Your Organizational Culture Change

Image pf Organizational Culture Change

Having a complete understanding of or full control over an organizational culture is not possible. Having full power over culture is not possible because things within an organization ebb and flow, grow and descend, evolve, develop the leadership and market dynamics. Changing the culture of an organization isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

It is a well-known fact that most successful organizations are incredibly efficient at mapping processes and practices. Despite this, most people are adamant that culture is ‘by chance’ or build a genuinely diverse and inclusive organization by offering money and benefits to people. Saying that these people are wrong would be an understatement.

Any organizational culture change endeavor that does not include culture mapping or the right culture change tools will always ultimately lead to a dead end. A visual map of your existing organizational culture will allow you to look at your company from the employees’ viewpoint as well as gain an understanding of all the components that make up your culture and where there is potential for change or improvement. The only problem here is that not all culture mapping models build for success.

Several culture mapping frameworks are available for use today. However, they are flawed because they generate a figure, a label, or a recommended method that assumes that people will react to new guidelines systematically as parts do in a mechanical system. As such, these frameworks or models for culture mapping can be highly costly, emotionally taxing, and incredibly time-consuming.

Fortunately, an alternative is available in the form of our culture mapping model. Not only is this model for organizational culture mapping extraordinarily engaging and easy to use, but it can also provide valuable insights into your existing culture cost-effectively.

The culture mapping model works in four phases. The purpose of each of the four steps—Envision, Design, Open Communication, and Change—is to provide the basis for a successful culture transformation. While different activities make up each phase, the ultimate goal remains the same—enabling a results-based culture that focuses on performance and productivity.

The Instant Benefits of Culture Mapping for Organizational Culture Change

Enabling a results-based culture that focuses on performance and productivity to increase customer acquisition, revenue, and talent acquisition is the long-term benefit of culture mapping or culture assessment. However, you can get some instant benefits by using the DOC Model to perform culture mapping for organizational culture change. The following are some of them to create a company that is truly loved by its employees and customers alike.

1. Set Expectations

The first and foremost benefit of culture mapping for organizational change management is crystal clear about every individual’s expectations in the organization and the organization. Set expectations by defining a positive vision of future business strategy and individual, team, and organizational goals.

2. Get Buy-in For Goals

You can get buy-in for the individual, team, and organizational goals from the relevant people in your organization by clarifying the desired business outcomes and then co-creating the steps needed to accomplish these business outcomes and its mission and vision and goals.

3. Encourage and Get feedback

Open and honest feedback continuously from everyone in the organization is critical to build and maintain a positively strong organizational culture. Mapping with the DOC model helps ensure this by allowing you to develop systemic, frequent, and reliable follow-ups to request continued feedback on how to improve and produce desired results.

4. Acknowledge Contribution

When employees believe that the organization has a positive effect on society, they will get motivated by appreciating their success and impact on the organization. Culture mapping with the DOC model can ensure this by establishing accountability partnerships for teams and employees to follow commitments.

5. Show Appreciation to Employees to Drive Results

Employees want to feel respected and valued for their performance and dedication towards the organization. When this happens, employees are more likely to increase productivity and achieve results. A critical step in the Change phase of the DOC model is enabling the project manager to monitor objectives and critical outcomes.

Once the project manager has this information, he is likely to relay it to team members. When the team members see that their efforts are making a difference to the project or organization, they are likely to get motivated and improve performance further.

6. Reinforce the Vision and Purpose

Culture mapping with the DOC model can ensure that the vision, values, cultural identity, and how those factors yield results are clear to everybody in the organization. Write your culture map with a clear understanding of your leadership philosophy and practices and create a new plan to fill in the gaps unaccomplished during the previous efforts made towards organizational culture change.

7. Encourage Results Achievement, Prepare For Success, Celebrate Change

Finally, the DOC model-based culture mapping encourages achieving results, preparing for success, and celebrating change together by developing and encouraging sessions with the design team and key stakeholders.

Final Word

Successfully transitioning to a desired organizational culture requires performing culture mapping the right way. Culture mapping treats the employees in an organization as humans with emotions and not as mere components that make up a system.

Once this happens, it becomes much easier to adopt a culture assessment model that focuses primarily on employee performance and productivity. The culture mapping model is one model for culture mapping. Culture mapping allows you to set expectations, get buy-in for goals, encourage and get feedback, acknowledge contribution, show appreciation to employees to drive results, reinforce the company’s vision and purpose, prepare for success, encourage, and celebrate change. Ultimately, all of this has a positive impact on your organizational culture, which benefits the bottom line.

If you would like to take part in the process of mapping your culture, and becoming a Top Most Loved Company, visit Most Loved Workplace and start the process.

The other day I came across a culture blueprint on the web. The culture blueprint had a section on it for “Behaviors we punish” and “Behaviors we reward.” Ironically, it had a heart in the middle of it. It was this culture blueprint that motivated me to write this article. Let’s see how they punish me now.

Unfortunately, the culture blueprint I found represents what most organizations continue to do every day. Companies typically use a carrot and stick approach that reinforces a “blaming culture” by focusing on punishing behaviors. There are several negative impacts of this blame culture. For instance, ADIE (2016) reveals that fostering a culture of blame in an organization will create an environment of intimidation and petulance among the employees which will inevitably contribute to job performance and lowered productivity.

Organizational Culture Definition

According to my friend Edgar Schein, organizational culture as having a “pattern of basic assumptions” which group members have acquired over time as they learn to successfully cope with internal and external organizationally relevant problems.

My definition of organizational culture is the process by which individuals and teams within an organization behave, execute, hold each other accountable, and show respect and appreciation. Organizational culture is defined by the degree to which people can achieve outcomes that are conducive to the business strategy and profitability of the business itself.

Often, those at the top of the organizational hierarchy are not even aware that they have a “blaming culture” in place at their organization. This is because the focus areas of a “blaming culture” do not look suspicious or negative at all. And, the telltale sign of a blaming culture manifests when employees blame the CEO for everything that goes “wrong” in the company, or any and all leader behaviors that they perceive as “wrong.” 

The Focus Areas of a Blaming Culture that Looks to Punish Behaviors

A blaming culture can negatively impact any organization by:

  • Creating a toxic work environment
  • Limiting its ability to find solutions
  • Lowering employee engagement
  • Hurting the reputation and ability of the leadership
  • Affecting business outcomes

How is a blaming culture created in the first place? It is created when the focus is solely on the behaviors to punish and the behaviors to reward, and the distribution of authority.

While not all of these focus areas are negative, a culture that is created based on them will fail to keep employees engaged and motivated to work.  So, what is the solution? The solution is a results-based culture that is based on positive, reinforcing behaviors.

  • Determining the best decision-making methods 
  • Encourage participation and candor over silence and groupthink
  • Developing and Aligning goals and strategic priorities
  • Positive practices such as the ways of starting, facilitating, and celebrating projects
  • Promote empathy and emotional regulation as a cultural norm.
  • Create positive ways to convene and collaborate
  • Defining the reason for the company’s existence and vision
    • The company’s values
    • The processes for helping everyone in the organization learn and grow
    • The ways to clarify expected behaviors without impacting autonomy

Mapping a Culture That Works

Your workforce is not merely a treasure trove of unique skills and attributes. It also holds a lot of potential to bring you a competitive edge in the industry. Encouraging your employees to become your organizational ambassadors will provide you with immense exposure in various markets and regions.  The first step towards this is creating a results-based culture that is based on positive, reinforcing behaviors.

A results based culture focuses on five key areas: meetings, vision, accountability, success behaviors, and results. Teams are motivated and self-driven to do more of or less of specific success or failure behaviors in meetings and performance for ongoing projects. Additionally, by opening up to new ideas, employees are able to have a more positive vision for the future.

In terms of accountability, employees hold the organization, themselves, and their colleagues accountable for achieving shared goals that connect to the organizational values, mission, and purpose. Perhaps, the most important element of a result-based culture is that it allows employees to feel trusted, appreciated, and respected by the organization.

Finally, the focus of employees is not on individual goals but on achieving shared goals and making a full effort towards the realization of the company’s vision. All of this helps the organization to ensure systematic collaboration, alignment, respect building, killer outcomes, and a positive future.

Follow Me On My YouTube Channel

Featured Posts

Leadership Toolbook

Join other 42.000 accomplished leaders who have become more effective and successful as a result of our programs.