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Change Management: A Culture Shift Case Study

Culture and business risks are intertwined

What if something about your culture needs to change? How do you identify the needed change? And where do you begin?

That’s the challenge Claudette Rowley, Director of People, Culture and Strategy for Appli-Tec, stepped into when she joined the manufacturing company that was struggling to implement new strategies. A change consultant, cultural designer, and executive coach, Claudette has been engaged in a multi-year culture shift initiative that involves every level of the organization.


Here are some key moments in this culture change conversation:

(2:48) Meet Claudette
Claudette reflects on two early career experiences, one where she thrived and one where the culture was toxic. She shared that in the toxic culture, she lost confidence and found it harder to get things done. It sparked her interest in leadership and she began to question ‘how can organizations be more effective?’

(4.00) Coaching Leaders, Changing Systems
As a coach, Claudette worked with leaders around purpose, mindset, and beliefs and the impact of these on their behaviors, “It took a while to figure out how to impact in culture in this indirect way,” she says. Hear how she begins to connect the dots between individual impact and organizational success.  

(5:12) It’s personal
We discuss why conversations about organizational culture always lead back to the personal impact the culture has on the human beings.

(5:43) The Cultural Brilliance System
Claudette believes organizations have ‘threads of brilliance’ running through them that hold the key to transformation. She says, “highly functioning cultures aren’t perfect, but they are always looking at how to bring out the best in people and the best in the organization.”

“The Cultural Brilliance system is a step-by-step process for changing a culture; it’s a road map.”

(8:00) Changing Culture from the Inside Out
After 20 years as a consultant Claudette joins a Appli-Tec as the Director of People, Culture and Strategy, and opportunity to become more woven into the fabric of the organization, and to take a leading role in changing the organization.  

(9:04) Personal Archetype Profile
Claudette reflects on her own Magician/Hero/Ruler profile, and how her drive to transform, combined with a sense of urgency, process, and candor contribute to her success in her role, “I’m someone who’s saying some of the tougher and that we need to change this we need to improve this because here’s how they are impacting that larger picture.”

(11:28) Why the Culture Needed to Change
When a niche manufacturing company fail to keep pace with growing sales, Claudette diagnoses a culture problem, seeing, “it’s not just operations; it’s all these systems and processes that had supported the company well in the past, but we’re no longer supporting the company.” We discuss why in culture work it’s never just one system, but that one thing impacts the next.

(14:10) Kicking off a Culture Shift
Claudette’s Cultural Brilliance process begins with an assessment, a step she calls Authenticity. The goal is to deeply understand how an organization and culture operates now, without judgement. Claudette describes how she used the CultureTalk for Organizations assessment, combined with interviewing and an offsite to create the cultural profile.

She describes how the process enabled her to pinpoint multiple challenges in the culture that were creating business risks.

“Culture and business risks are incredibly intertwined. That’s the case for culture; there are real world business risks you are going to face if you don’t handle these things.”

| Claudette Rowley, Director of People, Culture & Strategy

(16:40) Cultural Strengths and Shadows
Claudette talks about how she has used the CultureTalk for Organizations assessment to identify what beliefs and behaviors need to change and to track these changes over time. She shares how employees were engaged in the process of identifying both the strengths and shadow sides of the company’s Archetypes.

For example, the Hero showed up in operations as people were racing to get product manufactured and out the door, but it that same pattern was creating a high level of stress and urgency. The Innocent pattern showed up both in the positives of people trusting the company and the shadow of people not feeling empowered to say things that needed to be said.

(19:25) The Innocent-Ruler Dynamic
How do the Innocent-Ruler Archetypes support each other?

21:00 From Culture Assessment to Strategy
Claudette shares three culture change goals of creating: 1) an empowered workforce where people own their jobs, 2) an environment of psychological safety where people were willing to share ideas, and 3) openness to learning and growing. She started hosting weekly meetings with “production improvement teams” where she collected information about bottlenecks and worked with them to take action to solve things.  

“The biggest thing we did to build trust with the employees was to correct things that weren’t working. We could not ask people to change and not fix what they needed us to fix.”

| Claudette Rowley, Director of People, Culture & Strategy

(23:30) Key Change Agents
From the CEO to the management team, to long-term employees who were highly respected, Claudette engaged people across the organization to lead the change, “We knew that we had to get the key people motivated to participate in this.”

Claudette also led initiatives to revamp the training programs and hiring practices of the firm.

(26:00) Measuring change with a second assessment
When the company takes a second CultureTalk assessment 18 months later, they do measure two new Archetype patterns – Sage and Caregiver. Claudette talks about why they were excited to see these new patterns show up.

(27:40) When we lean into strengths and shadows
We discuss how these patterns help us recognize when we are slipping across the line into shadow or toxic behavior – and how employees become empowered to recognize behaviors that aren’t working.

(29:30) A cultural vocabulary
Claudette shares how the language of the Archetypes is introduced at orientation and reinforced throughout the employee experience. She shares an example of a term they use that developed organically as they looked at their Archetypes.  

(31:05) Growing through a pandemic
The company has doubled in size and successfully weathered the pandemic – a testament to the focus on culture and having people come together as a community and do what needed to be done.  


“Looking back at the last four years I would say the culture work we've done has been really successful in transforming the culture, but also meeting the needs of the business and managing risks because we understood our Achilles heels as a company.”

| Claudette Rowley, Director, People, Culture & Strategy

33.33 Not a ‘work from home’ culture
Claudette shares how the company positioned the pandemic as “an opportunity to come together as a community” and how the culture work created a foundation for positive change because the wheel for change was already greased.


35.33 A third culture assessment

“Our top archetype with Sage again; Sage had become a cornerstone and the Innocent had resurfaced, but this time it was around the level of trust people had in us as leaders throughout the pandemic. The third Archetype of Everyperson reflects how we’re all in this together and we want to hear what you have to say.”

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