The Culture Elephant: where you are, determines what you see
Alastair outlined Tricordant’s framing of culture based on the elephant and iceberg! He reflected on the ‘six blind men and the elephant,’ a famous Indian parable captured by John Godfrey Saxe’s poem. Each blind man feels something different depending where they are: a tree trunk, a wall, a snake? It is only together they get a sense of the whole: an elephant!
We advocate a mixed methods approach which elicits diverse perspectives and views across the whole organisation as essential to begin the understand the ‘culture elephant. Culture, like an elephant, has a long memory, usually moves slowly but can crush you if you don’t treat it well!
To go deeper in exploring culture, however, we need to go back to thinking about icebergs! Using Ed Schein’s model, we guided the NAO leadership to explore at the 3 levels of ‘what we do’, ‘what we say’ and the tacit hidden ‘what we believe’ around culture.
After initial Executive Team and Senior Leaders workshops, the NAO leadership and Nigel’s Strategy team led a series of deep exploratory conversations across the organisation which helped draw out a shared view of their culture. This process naturally was facilitated by their existing organisational culture strengths around intellectual curiosity and challenge. Building on this collective dialogue, the NAO team identified how they needed to develop their values, behaviours and supporting processes to develop their culture in support of the implementation of their new 5 year strategy.