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Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )


12th Jun 2023

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5 Priorities for Becoming a More Strategic People Manager
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures

The Power of Pioneering: Creativity, Curiosity, and Change in Business with Fredrik Haren

Insights from the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Symposium which took place on 1st June 2023.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, leaders face numerous challenges and opportunities. The ability to harness creativity, embrace change, and cultivate curiosity has become increasingly crucial for success. At the recent BMC Symposium, renowned speaker Fredrik Haren shared insights on “The Power of Pioneering” and shed light on how these qualities can transform businesses.

The Importance of Creativity

Do you consider creativity important in your job? Haren highlighted that creativity plays a vital role in the success of individuals and organsations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only a few participants in the room believed that their companies were doing enough to develop their creative potential. Yet, studies have shown that creativity correlates positively with the success of businesses. Countries with higher scores of creativity tend to outperform others. It’s time for leaders to recognise the true value that creativity brings and invest in fostering a culture of innovation within their organisations.

Defining creativity can be a challenge for many individuals. However, Haren demystified this concept by emphasising that creativity is not a magical ability exclusive to a select few, but rather it is a skill that can be developed by anyone. Creativity emerges from combining existing elements in novel ways. The notion of “stealing” ideas, popularised by Picasso, indicates the importance of drawing inspiration from various sources. Western perceptions of Chinese creativity as mere copying are often misguided; they stem from a culture that embraces the combination of different ideas fearlessly.

Embracing Change

Change is often perceived as a daunting and unwelcome aspect of business. However, Haren stressed that every industry is constantly evolving, and those who resist change risk falling behind. He shared an anecdote about a chicken breeding company that hesitated to consider the rise of plant-based alternatives such as the Impossible Burger. Just six months later, KFC launched chicken-free nuggets, showcasing the need for adaptability. To remain competitive, leaders must develop a keen sense of idea perception and embrace change as an opportunity rather than a threat.

The Power of Curiosity

Curiosity, often underestimated, holds tremendous potential for innovation and growth. Haren argued that curiosity is the common denominator among creative individuals. Citing the example of Frank Stephenson, an iconic car designer responsible for renowned models such as the Mini, Fiat 500, and designs at Ferrari and McLaren, Haren emphasized Stephenson’s insatiable curiosity. Upon seeing a stuffed swordfish hanging above a hotel reception desk, Stephenson made it his mission to find out why the animal was so significant. Subsequently, McLaren cars have been designed with some of the features of a swordfish!

Curiosity fosters a deep care and interest in a subject, leading to breakthrough ideas. By cultivating curiosity, leaders can broaden their perspectives, drive continuous learning, and stay ahead of the curve.

Good ideas do not emerge solely in moments of crisis. Haren emphasized that the majority, approximately 80%, of great ideas come during relaxed moments like taking a shower, going for a walk, or even while sleeping. To encourage the generation of innovative ideas, leaders should create a lifestyle that promotes relaxation, encourages diverse experiences, and provides space for reflection.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, creativity, change, and curiosity have emerged as essential attributes for successful leaders. As business leaders, it is imperative to recognise the significance of these qualities, leverage them to navigate challenges, and unlock the true potential of ourselves and our organisations. By embracing creativity, embracing change, and embracing curiosity, business leaders can shape a future filled with groundbreaking ideas, innovative solutions, and sustainable success.