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4 Tips to Culture Building

If someone were to ask you to work on your organisational culture today, what would you do?

Would you plan a major cascading programme? Implement practices and policies of other successful companies? Or question the relevance of culture to the success outcomes of your organisation?

We often receive questions from C-suite Officers and HR Leaders about leading and sustaining culture:

“A culture can develop on its own. Why should I spend time, money and effort on measuring and building it?”

“Can’t I simply implement the same policies as Google? They are successful and attract the best talents. So their policies should work for me too…”

“But how do I measure culture? It is intangible.”

“Is culture similar to values?


In year 2000, a reputed Australian Bank used the suite of Barrett’s Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT) to determine its current and desired culture and began to work on a programme of cultural transformation. Between 2000 and 2004, the level of employee satisfaction rose from 49% to 85%. The shift in culture was accompanied by a significant improvement in shareholder value and profitability.

What does this mean to you?

Organisation culture is a fundamental driver of your organisational performance. But it is complex, dynamic and also unique to individual companies. To manage it, you must take a conscious, system-wide and long-term approach.

Here are aAdvantage’s 4 tips to building a high performance culture:

  1. Define your unique culture. There is no “Perfect” culture. When Marissa Mayer left Google for Yahoo as President and CEO, many thought she would replicate Google’s culture wholesale. She did not. The buzz is back at Yahoo: Better financial results, talented people joining where they used to shun and noteworthy firm acquisitions. The question one has to answer is: “What is the culture that will best enable our organisation outcomes, at this stage of our journey?”

  2. Remove inhibitors to change. Are there dysfunctions within the culture in the form of leadership and people conflict (e.g. silo mentality, information hoarding), systems (e.g. bureaucracy, hierarchy) and procedural mismatches etc? The presence of these dysfunctions usually creates “negative energy” that runs counter to all positive efforts put in. “What is the level of dysfunction and how does it impact our achievement of outcomes?”

  3. Align Leadership traits and behaviours. Do you have leaders who say they support the espoused values but do not walk the talk? Very often the differences in beliefs are not so apparent at the leadership level. However, if one is to experience the culture at the operational level, behaviours exhibited can vary a fair bit. To illustrate the difference in beliefs in how values are operationalised, Apple has chosen to adopt the belief in empowering “abundantly” people whom they trust and “sparingly” to those who have yet to gain the trust. Yet, in other organisations, we know of senior leaders who will not empower unless they are absolutely sure. Where is the consistency within the organisation? Values (empowerment) unite; beliefs divide (abundantly, sparingly or “prove it”). What is the set of effective people leadership behaviours (not aspirational) that will guide leaders of the organisation now and for the next 2 years?

  4. Nothing measured, nothing done. Many people view culture as “soft” and not measurable. How then can we know if we have progressed in this journey of cultural transformation? Organisations worldwide and in Singapore have used Barrett’s Cultural Transformation Tool (CTT) in their transformation journey and also as a tool to measure movement towards the desired culture. As they progress, they are also able to track if the level of dysfunction has decreased.

Is your mandate to lead your organisation’s culture? Whether you are a C-level executive, a HR leader or a People Manager, we can help you to:

  • Learn from other organisations’ success stories (sharing of case studies)

  • Understand the process of building and sustaining culture

  • Build in-house expertise and knowledge on culture building and be equipped with essential tools

  • Be recognised as one of the privileged Accredited Consultants and tap on the global network of CTT Consultants and resources available through Barrett’s Values Center (Accreditation Programme)


Vincent Ho, Director, aAdvantage Consulting

Vincent Ho is the Co-owner & Director of aAdvantage Consulting Group, a boutique firm "Partnering You in Organisational Growth through Culture Transformation".

He has 25 years of business advisory and coaching experience and focuses on organisation transformation, customer experience, leadership team and culture development, senior leadership team coaching and change management.

His motivations are driven by his core values of Respect, Humility and Collaboration.


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