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How to manage culture - summary of the AICD Governance Summit

Yesterday our Co-Founder and CEO Kerstin Oberprieler spoke on a panel at the Australian Governance Summit, an annual event run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (ACID) and attended by 2,000 company directors from all over Australia and overseas.

Kerstin was one of three panellists speaking about how to shift culture in established organisations. Kerstin spoke along side Kathleen Conlon FAICD, REA Group, Aristocrat Leisure, Lynas and Melinda Conrad FAICD, ASX, Caltex, Stockland, and then panel was facilitated by Kyle Loades.

The panel discussion touched on various aspects of shifting culture, including the importance of being honest about your current culture and understanding that culture is the result of the various components of your organisational ecosystem, including processes, systems, remuneration, environment, and more.

Creating and maintaining a high performing culture requires leaders and boards to constantly and systematically manage culture as a living and evolving entity, much like a garden. Kerstin shared her perspective on how to use behavioural science to shift culture, by understanding what culture looks like in the daily actions and behaviours by staff. She also shared a useful lens through which to view culture, using 4 types of values defined by Patrick Lencioni. These are core values, permission-to-play values, accidental values and aspirational values.

Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, the word 'culture' came up a lot in the various sessions over the two days of the summit. When the audience was asked how well their board measures culture, only 21% rated the measurement as 'well', with the majority (53%) saying there is 'room for improvement', and the rest stating that culture is not measured at all or measured 'not very well'.

This shows the increasing awareness of the importance culture and reflect the need for leaders to have tools to understand their unique culture and have ways to incentivise and reward this to make the new culture stick.

Photo credit: Twitter @AICDirectors

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