The Katzenbach Center helps clients close the strategy-through-execution gap by putting their cultures to work. With a network of practitioners advising across multiple industries, geographies, and client situations, we guide clients as they tap the power of their cultures and unlock the wisdom of teams to foster performance.
Our time-tested methodology and focused thought leadership is rooted in the original works of leading organizational strategy advisor and best-selling author, Jon Katzenbach.
The Critical Few
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.
A middle eastern national oil company was facing a significant demographic shift in their workforce and an increasingly competitive external environment. To succeed in this new environment, the client developed an ambitious long-term strategic plan. Leadership soon realized that in order for the plan to succeed, they needed to leverage the strengths of their existing culture and get emotional commitment from the organization. Together, we prioritized 4 critical behaviors and deployed them across a series of pilots. Ultimately, we recorded business performance improvements that were directly attributable to behavior change.
A North American car manufacturer on the brink of bankruptcy tackled its deeply embedded culture after formal changes—reshaping strategy and optimizing costs—weren’t moving the needle far enough. To evolve the culture in a sustainable way, the organization relied on leaders to role model new behaviors and leveraged "authentic informal leaders" to spread the behaviors throughout the organization rapidly. Ultimately, the effort resulted in faster decision-making, increased accountability, and improved customer and product focus.
Following a number of leadership changes and declining performance in the market, a tech company CEO began to wonder if culture wasn’t the problem. Her organization had a long history, steeped in pride, but she felt it was adrift. We helped them redefine their ecosystem of values, core principles, leadership attributes, behaviors, and "rallying cry" that made the culture unique and compelling. To help the message spread and behaviors stick, the client engaged ~1,250 "pride builders" across 85 countries globally. Within a year, engagement scores increased by 10%.
A banking group in ANZSEA had experienced rapid, inorganic growth resulting in diverse and opposing ways of working, and was looking forward to achieving aggressive 5 year targets. We helped the bank understand its cultural strengths across divisions / locations and use them to accelerate priority strategic imperatives. First, we engaged with leaders to diagnose the existing culture and sub-cultures. We identified a long list of behaviors and refined them into three critical behaviors that the organization spread across a workforce of 40,000+.
Across 60 countries, 2,280 executives offer insight into how their companies invest in and deliver on the promise of digital. The findings reveal what successful companies are getting right, and what their peers need to do to catch up.
“It’s so exciting that we’ve identified the critical few behaviors that are going to move the needle on our organization’s performance. But — now what?!” asks pretty much every one of my clients, ever.
Simply changing a culture in an effort to improve employee engagement won’t necessarily lead to improved business performance. In fact, treating engagement as the goal of culture evolution can have a negative impact.
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.
Jon Katzenbach and co-author Douglas K. Smith interviewed hundreds of people from 30 companies to reveal what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness.
Through case studies from enterprises of all sizes around the world, Jon Katzenbach and co-author Zia Khan reveal how top-level organizations balance informal and formal elements to achieve outstanding results.
Jon Katzenbach identifies three basic types of teams: teams that recommend things, teams that make or do things, and teams that run things. The key is knowing where in the organization real teams should be encouraged.
Culture is the self-sustaining patterns of behaviors and mindsets that determine how work gets done. Many business leaders understand that culture plays an important role in business performance, but most struggle to align culture with strategy and fully harness this power. We help clients work with and within their existing cultures to drive long-term performance. Our emphasis on a critical few behaviors over mindsets is what differentiates our approach.
Drawing on recent research and real examples, the article’s authors present a new approach to cultural evolution that leverages what’s strongest in an organization’s existing culture, providing a practical road map for real, substantive evolution in employees’ ways of behaving by focusing on few critical shifts.
Companies with the most effective culture seek out and continually reinforce so-called keystone habits. Companies that recognize and encourage such habits stand to build cultures with influence that goes beyond employee engagement and directly boosts performance.
Teams are a flexible and efficient way to enhance organizational performance. Clients can utilize the power of disciplined teaming to further strategic objectives. In the 20 years since Jon Katzenbach wrote The Wisdom of Teams, our experience and approach on leadership and “high performing” teams have helped many clients succeed across a wide range of business problems and industries.
Katzenbach and Smith's research involved interviews with hundreds of people from thirty companies, and revealed what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness.
We believe organizations that leverage their informal networks have a greater potential to achieve business results. Our tools and techniques related to identifying and engaging Authentic Informal Leaders (AILs) help clients harness the energy and skills of key people to spread critical behaviors. Pride Building in particular is premised on a simple idea: every organization has a group of employees who excel at motivating colleagues to achieve stellar results.
Organizations should follow a rigorous approach to determine who the pride builders are, and then build on their insights and capabilities to influence behaviors. Pride builders can be helpful allies in spreading both motivational behaviors and performance behaviors.