Circular culture model on a MacBook screen

Do you have a view of what you’d like your culture to be, but it’s not quite being lived out in your organisation?

Do you have a view of what you’d like your culture to be, but it’s not quite being lived out in your organisation? 1200 800 Flint Change

Culture can be defined simply as “the way that things are done around here”. It is the intangible and often the unique accumulation of elements that combine to make it either a positive or negative factor in an organisation’s performance.

Why does culture matter?

The ramifications of organisational cultures, positive and negative, on both your people and the performance of your business, are significant. Recent research shows that public companies with healthy cultures are 1.5 times more likely to experience revenue growth!

Productivity, creativity and innovation are all impacted, as well as staff turnover, satisfaction and engagement. It’s therefore not something that can just be left to chance. The good news is that culture is something that can be changed – the first step is to understand the drivers within the organisation.

What are the elements that make up culture?

At Flint Change, we have developed a model* of the core elements that make up an organisation’s culture.

Culture is something that is both created by and has an impact on, all areas of an organisation. It is therefore something that needs to be considered and understood holistically, not viewed in isolation, and certainly not as being a problem to be fixed by the HR team.

In this blog, we pick a few elements of the model to illustrate ways that you can positively impact your culture. We’d be delighted to talk to you in more detail about the other elements in a discovery call.

Clarity of purpose

Strategy can seem complex or remote for some employees. The key is to simplify it and involve them; it will empower them to deliver it. When Executive teams create strategies they look forward, focussing on the big picture, but they don’t necessarily have the skills or knowledge to determine how that strategy should be implemented at a really granular level of detail.

We suggest spending time with people at all levels of the organisation to ask “How should we deliver this?” Other questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a clear strategy?
  • Is it widely known and understood?
  • Does it reflect the reality of what people are working on?

Symbols, rituals and stories

Rituals can help you boost culture by turning small, everyday behaviours into more symbolic acts, adding meaning and joy to people’s jobs and setting you apart with fun practices, creating a shared identity and building an emotional connection. Ask yourselves:

  • What role do environment, branding and rituals play within your organisation?
  • Do they reflect and reinforce the values of your organisation?
  • Do these set you apart?


There’s an old adage that you have to tell someone something 7 times before they can hear it. Anecdotal may be, but it highlights the need to communicate your key messages as many times as you can, in as many different ways as possible. We use one-page visual ‘compelling strategic narratives’ accompanied by plans for every department and ultimately every individual. The same strategic messages need to continue to be reinforced. Consider –

  • What methods of communication exist within your organisation?
  • Are these one-way (topdown) or are front-line people able to communicate through the hierarchy up to the leadership team?
  • What barriers to communication exist?

Flint Tips

  • Understand what will have a big impact. What small changes will make a difference to your people and make them understand that you are serious about making this culture be lived out?
  • You can influence culture with clear, purposeful interventions. These do not have to be high-cost or radical, just small changes that make it very clear.
  • You do need to have constant energy to reinforce culture. Diarise now to ensure that energy is kept up. Use people around you who are excited and passionate about this
  • Embrace the nay-sayers where you can. Get them on side. If your ongoing effort isn’t rewarded, you may need to change the people, or provide some radical candour!
  • Use all elements of the employee lifecycle to reinforce the culture, values and behaviours.
  • You might find our blog on creating engaging rituals will help you too.

You can use either interviews, focus groups or surveys to gather insight into where your organisational culture is currently. It may be worth considering using independent and impartial facilitators to ensure that people feel able, to be honest.

*The Flint Change Culture Model was developed from ‘The Culture Web’, Johnson et al,2008

Book a call with our founder Alex Walker to find out more about how we use our culture model in our Ignite Change Audit.

Image of a group of people walking dow am office corridor

Exploring culture and creating engaging rituals that set your workplace apart

Exploring culture and creating engaging rituals that set your workplace apart 1200 800 Flint Change

During Covid, we set up Friday night rituals with our kids. We created a restaurant at home and took turns to cook, wait tables and we all dressed up. It became something that we all looked forward to, and as we didn’t have loads to do. We took time to create new menus, make a shopping list, and cook. We all loved it!

Research showed that the people who created these rituals with their kids were happier with their parenting during the lockdowns. Many workplaces have their own rituals, and research has similar findings.

What IS a ritual?

In his book ‘Rituals for Work: 50 Ways to Create Engagement, Shared Purpose, and a Culture that Can Adapt to Change’, Kursat Orzenk defines it as “Actions that a person or group does repeatedly, following a similar pattern or script in which they’ve imbued symbolism and meaning.”

We looked into the research behind it and our reading was fascinating, backing up our experiences that this is a great way of embedding the culture you want. Tami Kim’s research in 2021 (Workgroup rituals enhance the meaning of work) showed that rituals increase team bonds, boost performance and show an increase in meaningful work and organisational citizenship behaviours. In addition, it identified the psychological underpinnings of rituals, demonstrating how they can lead to increased immersion in experiences, greater feelings of control, reduced anxiety, and increased liking for teammates.

Why are rituals helpful in embedding culture?

Rituals bring people together, enhance understanding and support bringing culture to life. To give you an example, we love the Customer Chair ritual from Nissan Motors (Source: Hussein M Dajani – General Manager, Nissan Motors). There is a customer chair in all meeting rooms to remind everyone that when decisions are taken, they need to be relevant to, add value to, empathetic with and compassionate with customers.

If one of the values in an organisation is ‘customer first’, but employees don’t see that lived out, then it will not be embedded in the same way. By creating a ritual that genuinely puts the customer at the heart of what we do, it is far more likely to be lived out by teams.

Many employee engagement surveys tell organisations that their communication isn’t strong enough. We recently supported a business to create a meaningful two-way dialogue with their teams in relation to their strategy and values. Instead of a traditional tell town hall approach, we created global ‘live’ sessions with both managers and team members providing updates and stories. Once the update is finished, the teams break out into groups with open questions to encourage feedback and conversation.

There is then a follow-up on the feedback via other communications. The new approach has been a game changer in getting more feedback and interaction and people look forward to this global get-together once a month.

Where do I start?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start by looking for any rituals that already exist and relevant ways to bring your culture to life
  • Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Design rituals that celebrate the impact or behaviour you want to reward
  • Be aware that rituals can have a negative impact if not managed correctly
  • Make sure they are inclusive
  • Don’t overwhelm people

To find out how to create your own practical rituals, check out our FREE resource 10 Rituals to Set Your Culture Apart Guide which gives you 10 examples of rituals and the impact they have and tips on how to apply and choose the right rituals for your business.

Empowering People Through Effective Engagement | Helping Staff Engagement | Empowering Change | Flint Change

Empowering people through effective engagement

Empowering people through effective engagement 1920 1280 Flint Change

One of the most powerful outputs that we have seen from our Keep it Alight – Next Level Change support is to really engage employees at a meaningful level. We have used it to great effect to empower people by getting them involved in how to implement a strategy.

One of the most important engagement enablers is ‘employee voice’. This is a great way of hearing what employees think in a structured way that directly impacts what they do – and how they do it.

When Exec teams create strategies, they look forwards. They don’t necessarily have the skills or knowledge to determine how that strategy should be implemented at a really granular level of detail. Often, it’s teams working with customers that have a really strong view on how a particular strategy should be best carried out – and it’s important to listen.

Clients have used our Keep it Alight support programme to effectively engage with people at all levels of the organisation, to ask “how should we do this?”

It’s an inspirational activity as people feel genuinely engaged and consulted. They have the opportunity to be part of a bigger plan. It makes it real for them and they also feel much more connected to delivering ideas which have come from the people doing the jobs.

How does it work?

With one of our clients, in the health sector, we spent time with experts in one clinical area. They saw the existing strategy and understood the direction they needed to take. However, it wasn’t fully meaningful to them in their roles.

They were asked what they would do to achieve the strategic goals in their area. They knew the frustrations that both they, and their patients, had with the current approach and they offered an alternative approach.

We used the principles from our Ignite Change – Take Action Handbook to help them develop their plan, ensuring that it still met the strategic goal. The strategy was transitioned into something that still worked towards the same target, but took a far more pragmatic and patient-focused route.

The teams were clear that no extra cost should be added (in fact, ideally, cost would reduce), but the quality and access targets were still crucial. “Their way” showed that there was a better way and the results proved it!

They had higher engagement from ‘at risk’ service users, and the teams were more engaged as a result.

This was a great example of how effectively engaging your people can drive empowerment and ownership to great effect.