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A CEOs Guide to Culture Change

Open LinkedIn and you can find an endless stream of articles about culture. Culture is one of the most popular session titles at conferences. Magazines use it to entice readers.

Studies have proven that culture is the single most important determinant of your organization's performance.

We want to offer a perspective on culture that is not mentioned in any of the hundreds of articles we’ve read (if you find one, please send it to us).

Culture is UNCONSCIOUS…and if you ignore this unconscious nature, you will never be successful in shaping it. This is why most efforts to improve culture don't work... a recent study found that 63% of culture change initiatives fail (Forbes).

We have been helping CEOs develop mission-focused, high-performing cultures for 30 years. We offer the following six-step process that summarizes what it takes:

  1. Define the beliefs required for culture change.

  2. Make conscious the characteristics of the existing culture.

  3. Make conscious the leadership characteristics of the leadership team.

  4. Make conscious the unconscious needs that motivate each member of the leadership team.

  5. Lead: Create a compelling personal commitment to the organization's purpose within each person.

  6. Foster peer coaching.

Watch the video above to learn more. The video is a recording of a presentation entitled "Good News/Bad News for Superintendents: You are the Source of Your District’s Culture" we did with Dennis McDavid, Berkley Schools' Superintendent, for a presentation at the annual Leadership Summit for ASCD (The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development).

In it we outline these 6 steps in more detail. And we offer some tools for facilitating the process. The presentation is aimed at Superintendents/CEOs of schools but is universally applicable to any type of organization (as long as it is comprised of humans!).

And at the end of the video, we offer several (free) tools. If you’re interested in these tools, let us know.

Good News/Bad News for Superintendents: You are the Source of Your District’s Culture

As Superintendent or District leader, you are creating the culture around you.

The question is what sort of culture are you intentionally or, more likely, unconsciously creating?

Culture is a product of our unconscious beliefs and actions, so you may not be aware of the effect your actions are having, but your actions are driving the culture everyone else lives into.

Billions of dollars are spent by organizations attempting to change culture; most such efforts fail.


Because most don’t take into account the invisible nature of culture; it’s unconscious. To change culture, people must identify their unconscious beliefs and habits and create conscious ones that advance the desired culture.

That process starts with the Superintendent and Cabinet. Berkley Schools is building a culture where people are connected and united, where personal responsibility and growth are the hallmarks, and where people stop hiding and defending their shortcomings and ask for help ... a coaching culture. Much progress has been made and there is a long way to go.

Superintendent Dennis McDavid reveals how he and his team are creating conscious habits that advance their culture.

This video helps leaders & Superintendents understand:

  1. A practical understanding of 3 sets of tools that are crucial in creating the culture you desire.

  2. Insight into and increased awareness of your unconscious behaviors that are influencing your culture.

  3. An understanding of a key to unlock your ability to have “difficult conversations” that help people grow.

Special Acknowledgement : We want to thank Dennis McDavid for the opportunity to co-present at the prestigious ASCD Annual Conference. It’s an honor to partner with such amazing leaders and amazing school districts.


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