Europe 12 Jun 2019

Cultural Transformation for Survival

Many companies tend to focus on tried-and-true business strategies that have worked for them in the past. However, success is situational, and the parameters that led to the success of any given strategy may have changed. Corporate cultures that cling to old methods will struggle to survive.

Detecting new trends and predicting changes brought about by them are two indispensable skills for a business’ longevity. Kodak kept an iron grip on the photography market for over a century, but fell during the shift to digital. But despite this, Fujifilm was able to see this change as a chance to reinvent itself and maintain its prosperity; the Japanese multinational corporation, which was founded in 1934, still stands today.

The end goal of cultural transformations is optimization. To successfully transform the workforce, implementation goals must be SMARTmeaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Employees are a key factor in this process. If they feel a sense of ownership over this change, they will readily adopt it and make it their own.

People addressing change

Innovation diffusion theory can help for gauge responses and willingness to participate in change. With this Gaussian curve, we can analyze different profiles in terms of their willingness to embrace change. This theory puts forth five categories:

  • Innovators (2.5%): Those who volunteer to try new things and are ready to take risks.
  • Early adopters (13.5%): Those who are potential leaders and instigators of change in their They feel comfortable with change even if they are as proactive as the Innovators.
  • Early majority (34%): Those who are not leaders but likewise are not averse to common changes, such as updating to state-of-the-art technology.
  • Late majority (34%): Those who are skeptical and will wait for the majority to have implemented a change before putting in the time or effort themselves.
  • Laggards (16%): Those who are a challenge involve in the change process.

Communication’s Role in Change Management


A cultural change may fail for any number of reasons. Below are some obstacles that usually lead to failure:

  • Lack of commitment from company leadership.
  • Resistance among employees, which is a very common issue. This risk cannot be ignored during the planning process.
  • Poor or infrequent internal communications. Insufficient communication is the most common cause of implementation failure.
  • Lack of strong employee commitment. Without employee involvement, creating a new culture is impossible.
  • Unclear culture definition.
  • Lack of planning.
  • Improper leader.
  • Prioritization of the system above the people.
  • Lack of vision.
  • Overlooking short-term goals and small victories.
  • Failure to anchor change to corporate culture.
  • Premature declaration of victory.

Phases of change

Culture must change and adapt to current demands for a company to survive. Specific tools exist for this purpose, such as specialized work spaces, information and communication systems, incentive systems, etc.

1: Analyze, Diagnose and Understand: There are many tools that can be used in this diagnosis, from surveys to focus groups and even largely unexplored methods, such as agile methodologies.

2: Design and Align: Change must be integrated into all of a company’s operating processes to guarantee success. This can be achieved through an inspirational and exciting speech to all members of the organization. Communication and thoughtful execution are paramount, and again, the involvement of all departments will aid in this.

3: Implement, Measure and Review: In this phase, it is important to inspire and involve as many collaborators as possible to cultivate positive attitudes throughout the organization. If possible, create this positive environment using tools such as gamification, among others.

Key Success Factors

Studies have shown that one in three companies fail in their attempt to implement a new cultural model. The need for a roadmap with clear, efficient goals that involve all employees is clear. There are many factors that can have a positive effect on cultural change. In our experience, some of them include:

1. Long-term vision and planning

Any organization’s culture is made up of both visible and invisible elements, such as:

2. Holistic and Consistent Vision

Coherence provides security during the cultural change process. If visible elements are not cohesive with the intended change, you will lose credibility and failure is guaranteed.

3. Leadership and participation

Leading means facilitating action and inspiring others. Leaders who use their positions well are capable of influencing behaviors and molding attitudes.

4. Accountability and Continuous Information

Through accountability, you can concretely give good news about company development to organization members, and with this, you generate commitment to change.

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a transformation come together. Conveying that success through data generates a feeling of pride and sense of belonging, both of which are key to the success of your cultural transformation.

David González Natal
Partner and Senior Director of Engagement at LLYC
David González Natal has made constant progress since his career began at LLYC in 2014, holding positions of responsibility in which he has demonstrated his talent in his management of work groups and customers. He is presently senior director and global leader of the department, where he coordinates eight markets: Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Panama. He has overseen flagship projects of Coca-Cola, Campofrío, Telefónica, BBVA, Multiópticas and Gonvarri that were chosen for over 70 domestic and international awards for communication, creativity and marketing. He holds a degree in journalism from the Complutense University of Madrid and he completed the Global CCO program of ESADE. He has professional experience in the media, working at El Mundo and Cadena Ser. He is part of the Press department of Círculo de Bellas Artes of Madrid, and he is chief coordinator for the agency Actúa Comunicación. He also teaches storytelling and brand strategy at several universities and business schools, including Esade, IE and Carlos III.
Jon Pérez Urbelz
Director of the Consumer Engagement area at LLYC in Ecuador
Perez earned a journalism degree from the University of Navarra and holds a master’s degree in political and institutional communications from the University of Navarra and George Washington University. He has more than 10 years of communications experience, mainly in the legal sector, where he worked in corporate, online, internal and crisis communications. He is also specialized in employer branding and employee engagement projects.
Ramón Prat
HR Corporate Director and People & Organization Expert at Axis Corporate
Ramón has over 20 years of experience working in human resources, as well as professional experience in financial services, mass consumption and the automotive industry. He has served in the areas of HR, compensation and benefits, personnel management and administration and has contributed to consulting projects for companies in multiple sectors on topics such as variable compensation, salary structure design, meritocracy and the implementation of performance management models (objectives and competencies), among others. He holds a degree in Psychology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master’s in HR Management and Planning from the Center for Financial Studies.
Rocio Cervantes
People & Organization Manager at Axis Corporate
Since 2002, Rocio Cervantes has advised several multinational companies in projects related to the fields of Corporate Strategy, People & Organization, CSR and Internal Communications.Rocio holds a degree in Educational Psychology from the Comillas Pontifical University, a master’s in HR and Organization from ESIC University and a PDD from EOI Business School. Furthermore, she is a trained Executive Coach from AECOP with a specialization in Digital Transformation from the International University of La Rioja.
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