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Turn Organizational Culture into a Competitive Advantage

Unleash the power of culture to enable your strategy.

  • There is confusion about how to translate culture from an abstract concept to something that is measurable, actionable, and process driven.
  • Organizations lack clarity about who is accountable and responsible for culture, with groups often pointing fingers at each other.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • When it comes to culture, the lived experience can be different from stated values. Culture is the pattern of behaviors and the way work is done, rather than simply perks, working environment, and policy.
  • Executives’ active participation in culture change is paramount. If they aren’t willing to change the way they behave, attempts to shift the culture will fail.
  • Elevate culture to a business imperative. Foster a culture that is linked to strategy rather than trying to replicate the hot culture of the moment.
  • Target values that will have the greatest impact. Select a few focus values as a guide and align all behaviors, HR processes, and work practices to those values.

Impact and Result

  • Executives need to clarify how the culture they want will help achieve their strategy and agree on the focus values that will have the maximum impact.
  • HR needs to measure the current state of culture and facilitate the process of leveraging existing elements while shifting undesirable ones.

Turn Organizational Culture into a Competitive Advantage Research & Tools

2. Give executives the tools to drive change

Enable executives to gather feedback on behavioral perceptions and support behavioral change.

3. Align HR processes to culture

Review all areas of HR to understand where the links to culture exist and create a playbook to guide changes to HR processes.

4. Spread and manage culture

Align behaviors to focus values and pilot the process with senior leaders.

Culture as a Competitive Advantage

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How to complete this course:

Use these videos, along with the Project Blueprint deck above, to gain an understanding of the subject. Start with the Introduction, then move through each of the Course Modules. At the end of each Module, you will be required to complete a short test to demonstrate your understanding. You will complete this course when you have completed all of the course tests.

  • Number of Course Modules: 5
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Learning Outcome

Lead the organization through a process that will drive culture as a competitive advantage by understanding the lived experience and identifying focus values for the organization.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Identify organizational focus values, and determine the current state of the organization's culture.
  • Select ideal behaviors, and provide executives with tools to drive change.
  • Prioritize HR processes that will impact culture.
  • Monitor culture, and work with business leaders to maintain it.

Course Modules

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Module 1

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Module 2

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Module 3

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Module 4

Workshop: Turn Organizational Culture into a Competitive Advantage

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Work With Executive Team to Define Focus Values

The Purpose

  • Describe the desired future state and anticipate challenges in changing culture.
  • Review feedback on current culture and develop the action plan to shift to desired state.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • McLean & Company’s model for turning culture into a competitive advantage is used to align strategy and values with actioned behaviors.
  • Current state is evaluated and desired state is described with specific focus values.
  • Project goals, timeline, and resources are determined.




Hold kick-off meeting.

  • Culture Documentation Template

Hold action meeting.

  • Cultural Assessment Report Template

Module 2: Work With Executive Team to Review Behaviors

The Purpose

  • Provide executives with an awareness of perceptions of their observed behaviors.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Support the desired cultural shift through modeled behaviors from senior leaders.




Review leader behaviors.

  • Executive Reflection Template

Module 3: Review HR Processes

The Purpose

  • Guide HR through a prioritized action plan with assigned accountability.
  • Evaluate current core competencies to determine applicability with revived culture focus values.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • HR’s action plan is outlined.
  • Competencies are aligned with culture.




Create an HR action plan.

  • HR Culture Playbook

Review core competencies.

  • Organizational core competencies evaluated for focus value alignment

Develop the HR communication plan.

  • Internal communications planned

Module 4: Prepare to Spread and Manage Culture

The Purpose

  • Outline internal communications to gain greater buy-in.
  • Encourage desired behaviors with first-wave program group.
  • Prepare to cascade facilitation of desired behaviors throughout the organization.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Communications plan is determined.
  • Behaviors displaying focus values are reinforced.
  • Culture Facilitation Guide is tailored to the needs of leaders throughout the process.




Outline recognition program for early adopters.

  • Method outlined to positively reinforce desired behaviors

Customize the Culture Facilitation Guide for Leaders.

  • Culture Facilitation Guide for Leaders

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 4-phase advisory process. You'll receive 7 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation #1 - Determine current culture and identify focus values
  • Call #1 - Confirm you are prepared to chair the culture kick-off meeting prior to meeting with the executive team.
  • Call #2 - Create a strategy to measure the current culture in your organization.
  • Call #3 - Discuss the results of the cultural assessment and prepare for the action meeting.

Guided Implementation #2 - Give executives the tools to drive change
  • Call #1 - Set up 360 Degree Feedback for the executive team and discuss if a group meeting is appropriate.

Guided Implementation #3 - Align HR processes to culture
  • Call #1 - Review HR processes to understand where to prioritize action and learn about best practices for influencing behavior.
  • Call #2 - Discuss the facilitation process and review changes to the facilitation guide.

Guided Implementation #4 - Spread and manage culture
  • Call #1 - Check in after all meetings have been conducted to determine when the process will need to be refreshed.


  • Allen Annett, HR/OD Consultant and Executive Coach, DMD Connects
  • Richard Barrett, Speaker, Author, and Values Thought Leader, Barrett Values Centre
  • Greg Besner, CEO, CultureIQ
  • Marcia Buchholz, Associate Vice President of Human Resources, University of Calgary
  • Phil Buckley, Managing Director, Change with Confidence
  • Alexis Dean, Founder and Chief Experience Officer, Dovetail
  • Michael Franklin, Employee Engagement Specialist, MagnaCare
  • Ivan Joseph, Director of Athletics, Ryerson University
  • Carol Leaman, CEO, Axonify Inc.
  • Edward Marshall, Adjunct Professor at Duke University,
  • Colleen Meeker, Vice President of Human Resources, Victorinox Swiss Army, Inc.
  • Catherine Spence, Co-Founder, Pomello
  • Carolyn Taylor, CEO, Walking the Talk
  • Dr. John Traphagan, Professor of Religious Studies and Human Dimensions of Organizations, University of Texas
  • Dr. David S. Weiss, President & CEO of Weiss International Ltd.,