The Critical Few

Organizational culture is powerful — the best leaders know how to make use of it.

The success of any transformation effort depends on whether and how leaders engage their culture. Culture, however, is different from other business topics: it is implicit rather than explicit, emotional rather than rational — that’s what makes it so hard to work with, but that’s also what makes it so powerful.

Bestselling author Jon Katzenbach and coauthors James Thomas and Gretchen Anderson, have written a practical guide to working with culture and tapping into a source of catalytic change within your organization.

“This book describes the practice of culture change in personal detail and highlights through a composite story how the culture change process itself is a multi-faceted adventure, not the imposition of a few steps from a generic change model.”

Edgar H. ScheinProfessor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management, Author with Peter Schein of the 5th Edition of Organizational Culture and Leadership and Humble Leadership

“Katzenbach, Anderson, and Thomas expertly outline how to manage organizational culture as a critical asset in practical and actionable terms. Their decades of experience in advising leading organizations shines here as a pragmatic, optimistic guide to management.”

Tim RyanUS Chairman and Senior Partner at PwC

“As a student of habit creation, I loved the The Critical Few. It guides leaders to follow a discipline of simplicity, to be deliberate and purposeful, and to focus on what matters. Best of all, it encourages leaders at all levels to close the book, engage in real conversations, and build teams that matter.”

Charles DuhiggAuthor of bestsellers The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
The Critical Few

Energize your company’s culture by choosing what really matters

The Critical Few lays out the Katzenbach Center's methodology for identifying and using your culture's four most critical elements:


Characteristics of how people behave; the “family resemblance” at the heart of any organization.


Patterns of how individuals spend time, make decisions, and perform their jobs; what people tend to "do" day to day.

Authentic informal leaders

People at all level with a high degree of “emotional intuition” or social connectedness, and powerful influence on others.


Integrated, thoughtful measures to track progress, encourage the self-reinforcing cycle of true, lasting change and link to business performance.

Why focus on culture?

Now more than ever, workplace culture can’t go undervalued. In the Global Culture Survey 2018 by The Katzenbach Center, researching more than 2,000 people in 50 countries, a whopping 80% of respondents say their organization’s culture must evolve in the next five years for their company to succeed, grow, and retain the best people. This is up from 51% in 2013.

Find out more about "Closing the Culture Gap"

Find out more about "Where organizational culture is headed"

A growing number of C-suite and board members view culture as a critical strategic topic: in fact, 71% say culture is an important topic on their agenda, a notable jump from 64% in 2013. And 65% of all respondents say that culture is more important to performance than an organization’s strategy or operating model. But for the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned.

Find out more about "Closing the Culture Gap"

Find out more about "Where organizational culture is headed"

There’s a notable difference between how leaders view their culture, and how their people see it. This gap speaks to the perpetual challenge facing every leadership team: translating high aspirations for culture into day-to-day actions, and bringing others on board.

Fortunately, it’s possible to close this gap. With a deeper understanding of their company’s culture and the day-to-day behaviors that shape it, leaders can find new opportunities to achieve their business goals — and new allies to help drive the effort.

Find out more about "Closing the Culture Gap"

Find out more about "Where organizational culture is headed"

The Critical Few Quizzes:
Which cultural archetype is your company?

Take one (or all!) of these three mini-quizzes to find out. They're each a quick extract of our Culture Thumbprint survey, a tool you can use to diagnose your company's unique cultural situation. Find out more by contacting us.

What's the vibe at your workplace?
What's it LIKE where you work? What's normal, and what's outside the bounds? Do you fall in line behind one leader like a drill team, or express all manner of opinions via a marketplace of ideas? Take this quiz to find out!

Is your company a gambler or a perfectionist?
Do you chase after the next “shiny object”? Or are you content to do what you've always done well? Are you a shrewd big better or a dogged corporate machine? Take this quiz to find out!

What matters to your company?
We all know that 'people matter!' But we also make choices about who to listen to, how to align - and together, these choices set a tone. Do you compete to take care of your customers? Do you even know who they are? Take this quiz to understand who really matters to you.

The Critical Few Quizzes

What is your most pressing question on organizational culture?

Click below to learn more.

How should we be preparing for the workforce of the future?

About the authors

Jon R. Katzenbach

Founder, The Katzenbach Center at Strategy&


James Thomas

Partner and Middle East lead of The Katzenbach Center at Strategy&