Linking Culture & Performance

Against the backdrop of a highly competitive and disrupted market, this Australian retailer was in  the early stages of implementing an exciting new customer and execution focused strategy.  Recognising the need to shape organisational culture such that it supports and enables strategy implementation, this Australian retailer sought out a systemic performance culture model and related diagnostics to provide a baseline measure and facilitate leader alignment.

Background & Context

To have utility in the retail environment, any performance culture model and related diagnostics needed to be commercial, pragmatic and technically sound. The model also needed to support leaders to have quality conversations about complexities and tensions that exist. The Denison Model of Organisational Culture was selected, given it’s ability to identify the cultural attributes that are related to performance outcomes.

The Denison Model

The Denison Model of Organisational Culture is anchored in 25 years of business and scientific research which demonstrates the link between culture, leadership and performance outcomes. The Denison Model of Organisational Culture highlights four key traits (Mission, Consistency, Involvement, Adaptability) that an organisation should master in order to be high performing and sustainable.

Denison Circumplex


What We Did

Curve Group supported this Australian retailer to implement the Denison Organisational Culture Survey to 3000 team members (a sample of 25% of the workforce). A response rate of 90% was achieved, well above all industry benchmarks. With valid and reliable data, Curve Group supported the HR and Executive team to explore the data from multiple perspectives (including breakdowns by store, store support and distribution centre, by store region, by store performance, by store support centre function and by leadership levels). This involved briefings with the HR and Executive teams accompanied by an Insights Report that summarised themes from the overall data and observations from the results in depth. 1:1 interviews were facilitated with each Executive to gain an understanding of the broader business context impacting the results, key challenges, opportunities for improvement and what their own functional results meant. The work culminated in a Data to Action workshop with the Executive team, focused on identifying and agreeing on key initiatives that would build on the good work already underway.

A range of different tools were used throughout the engagement process to generate deeper levels of insight and ideas. This included:

  • A card sort activity, to identify priority cultural drivers and priority business performance outcomes
  • Cultural transformation case studies, to share the cultural transformation journeys of other organisations, including success factors and lessons learnt.
  • Initiative cards, to share the detail of initiatives other organisations have used as part of their cultural transformations.
  • Mapping of deep cultural assumptions, to identify the shifts in mindsets required to support their strategy implementation.

The Outcome

Through our work with the HR and Executive teams, this Australian retailer now has baseline data from the Denison Organisational Culture Survey that can be used to drive action and monitor progress. The work with the Executive team sparked conversations about the good work already underway, and the opportunities in front of them. The HR team have now supported the Executive to agree to four key initiatives of focus for the next 12 months, and are in the process of communicating and engaging the rest of the organisation in the results and outcomes from the process.

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