Cultural Development and Structural Change with Filiz Yesil & Nadine Röske

Hello Nadine, hello Filiz, you are responsible for the product "culture development". Is it even possible to develop culture? And doesn't it also develop without off-standards? Nadine: Sure, culture is constantly evolving, it never stands still. From our point of view, "culture development" is one of the most important success factors of all. However, we also see that this factor is very underestimated by many companies because it cannot be influenced as directly as, for example, optimizing processes. Our offer refers to a strategic, i.e. planned cultural development. Our message to our customers is: Don't just let "culture development" run its course, but develop your culture just as specifically as, for example, your employees, processes or products. What actually is culture? Filiz: Quite simply, culture is what people do together. We are primarily interested in how they do this, i.e., which values are lived - consciously or unconsciously - how they communicate and act, which beliefs and symbols exist - such questions lead us into the "cultural engine room" of the company. This cannot be described in flow charts. And yet it is highly relevant for the performance of the company. "Culture development" often sounds like "fair-weather change management." But you are saying that this is about performance. Filiz: Absolutely! For example, take a look at the current discussion about "quiet quitting" or the effects of increased home office work. These cultural developments have an extremely strong impact on employees' identification with the company, collaboration, leadership and motivation. These are all factors that ultimately have an impact on performance. And how do you specifically go about doing cultural development? Nadine: First of all, it's about understanding the culture of a company. There is no standard. So we first take stock: structures, artifacts, symbols, history, values, goals - all these elements are important to understand how this system works. The special thing about our approach is that we do this analysis together with the employees in the company. In this way, this stocktaking already becomes part of the cultural development. The primary goal is not to make the consultants smarter, but to build a mirror for the company in which they can view and understand their culture. Sounds a bit theoretical... Nadine:...but it's not at all. For example, we have created films, we call them "soundings", in which we ask employees from all functions and levels about their view of the company's culture. The compilation of the employee statements says a lot about the culture of the company, not only verbally but also non-verbally. Such a document brings a lot of energy into the system. It can be used, for example, in kick offs, staff meetings, team meetings and workshops to create a broad awareness of the issue. We need this energy to achieve maximum participation. Such an approach is typical for offstandards: we are not a consultant closed store, we also always want to work with people. And that's a lot of fun, too! In the end, isn't it always about the same thing? Getting even more out of people? Filiz: The goal of becoming more successful is not indecent. The question is how to achieve it. For us, it's always about maximum involvement and a sustainable impact. You can't achieve that by cutting costs or re-engineering alone. People" will only give their best if they feel they are being treated fairly and with respect within the company, and this on a permanent basis and not as part of a culture development campaign. So it's also about credibility. That's why we also pay special attention to communication, dialog, feedback and transparency in every culture development. Does culture development mean we were wrong before? Nadine: On the contrary - it's just that some patterns that may have made us successful as a company in the past are no longer suitable for the current context and the challenges a company is now facing. Filiz: Appreciation for what has been and recognition of what has been achieved is important in order to be able to tackle something new at all and to get involved in cultural changes. If I hear that I was wrong, then I can't approach something new in a positive way. This devalues and leads to resistance and blockades. How do you actually measure success in cultural development processes? Nadine: The participation rate, for example, is an important indicator of the acceptance of cultural development. We look at whether feedback workshops or dialog events are accepted, for example. We also measure the development of indicators such as satisfaction, cooperation and motivation. Employee surveys are often a good tool here because they are well established. Who does that at offstandards, which is all very complex and sounds like a lot of work for the consultants? Filiz: Our consultants all come from systemic consulting. This helps enormously in order not to immediately fall into problem solving or evaluation, but to bring in a holistic, systemic view of the company. This is where we differ from the classic expert consultants, who tend to look at organizations from a rationalistic perspective. Sometimes this irritates a client because he expects us to solve problems. But we are concerned with the sustainable strengthening of the organization - not with firefighting operations. As a consultant, you need standing, courage and the ability to give very clear feedback and position yourself. The consultants don't have to be of a certain age - but they should fit in with the company and the experience horizon that is important there. How do you make sure the pendulum doesn't swing back when you're gone? Nadine: That is very important. The "old patterns" that you actually thought you had already overcome often return, especially in times of crisis. That's why the establishment of new formats that stand for cultural development is an essential sustainability factor. These include formats such as retros, dialog rounds, team workshops, but also continuous monitoring of development, e.g., within the framework of a regular steering committee. All of this must have a strong link to everyday life. "Flanged-on" formats that do not generate any benefit in everyday life are quickly discontinued. offstandards also accompanies structural changes - What's different? Nadine: Structure is part of culture, so we are not reinventing our approach here. With structural change, we often don't have a positive change story. Change is seen as something that happens involuntarily and is initiated from the outside. Therefore, emotions and resistance are often very strong and dominant. It is then a matter of explaining the changes, reducing fears and identifying the design corridors through intensive communication, dialog and transparency. This often requires qualifications that are critical for success, such as specific leadership and communication skills. The quantity of cuts for culture development is large, but the accentuation is already different. And as already mentioned: Culture always develops - even in the case of structural changes. Are you the emotional repair store? Filiz: That would mean that something is wrong with the emotions. We are far from making such an assessment. On the contrary, we work with emotions. After all, the energy for cultural development lies in the emotions - not in slides or posters! We create spaces in which commitment, reflection and design become possible and also encourage people to use these spaces - we are good at that. We accompany people on their way into the new. What feedback makes you happy? Nadine: When people come up to me one or two years later and tell me that something has really changed for the better in the long term. The statement "we have developed further as a company, have tackled something and have grown beyond ourselves" - that already means a lot to me! Thank you for the interview, Nadine and Filiz!