4 Areas of Focus for Workplace Culture Change

Workplace Culture Change

Workplace culture change is difficult. There’s no question about it. Workplace culture is, by definition, a set of norms under which the company functions. So how can we effectively change a company culture?

In speaking with Melissa Price, the Lady of the Vault, Keeper of the Coffee, (aka CEO) of dPOP!, she often encounters corporate leaders who believe that workplace design is the answer to changing company culture. Her organization creates beautiful spaces “that inspire creativity and productivity within the workplace.”

While good office design and inspiring spaces can create a certain look and feel for an organization, as she will admit, office design itself cannot change a company culture on its own.

So if it is not workplace design that can change company culture, how can we create a sustainable corporate culture change?

Because “workplace culture” derives from a set of norms within the workplace, we need to look at changing those generally accepted sets of “normal”. In other words, we have to look at human nature.

We want to belong. We want to be part of the team. We want to blend in. To change workplace culture, we need to build a community that will reflect the new normal.

The development of this community should be centered around the four areas that create culture.


Corporate culture change comes from within. While a workspace in and of itself can hamper or foster work culture, ultimately, it is up to the organization’s leaders to create change. Leaders are not necessarily the people with fancy titles. Leaders are those within the community that have enough social clout to affect change.

They inspire others to emulate their behavior. If the workplace installs a foosball table in the break room to nurture “collaboration”, leaders should be at the table playing the game. If the social leaders are holed up in their cubes or offices, the little foosball men will gather dust and the workplace culture will remain as is.

Individuals can also be the roadblock to change. If people cannot adapt to the culture change, it might be time to let them go. Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar and Disney Animation, did just that after a Disney Animation executive did not understand the cultural shift taking place in his organization.


Workplace culture change starts with the values that the company holds true. Maybe a culture change initiative was established because the company strayed too far from its core values. Maybe there are new values that the company wants to adopt to better reflect its corporate identity.

Regardless, these values are not delivered as an edict from Mt. High. If the new values or restated values are to become part of the workplace culture, they need to be instituted by the leaders and influencers with social clout.


Sometimes it’s the process that gets in the way of workplace culture change. Stifling processes can put up barriers between organizations, create tension, and be the motivating factor underlying the change initiative.

Being open to tweak, change, or eliminate processes is a critical part of corporate change initiatives. During a corporate cultural change program, it is important to examine processes, workflow, and the groups that enable or inhibit it.

Process improvement should be an exercise for the entire organization. You don’t know where an idea might come from. Take suggestions from all levels, set aside the ones that are grips to see if there is a pattern, and categorize the suggestions into general topic areas. Create discussion groups around the general topic areas. Focus the discussion on specific outcomes, not merely a list of ideas. Once documented, begin to implement the process changes.


If corporate cultural change initiatives are to be taken seriously, they should be backed up with significant rewards and incentives.

Even Goldman Sachs has realized that yesterday’s culture of 90+ hour workweeks for recent college grads was not sustainable. While the Millennials want to make a difference in their workplace, they do not want to do so at the risk of their health and sanity. As a result, Goldman Sachs has instituted a no work on Saturdays policy for junior bankers. This initiative is incentivized by having junior bankers provide feedback to senior managers on their workload from their immediate management. For managers who do not follow policy and do not make corrections, it will affect their careers.

For a motivated Wall St. banker, that’s incentive.


The goal of workplace culture change is to adjust the view of what is “workplace normal.” When the cultural influencers and leaders act in a manner consistent with the desired cultural change, those actions will become the new “workplace normal.” It is only then that team members will come to accept the new normal and join in, resulting in corporate cultural change.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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Dreamer or Actioner?

Dreamer or ActionerI love dreamers. It’s good to dream. Actually, it’s great to dream. It proves that you are thinking bigger plans, trying to improve you lot in life, attempting to change something for good. It shows that you care. It shows that you’re human. It shows that you bleed.

But I love “actioners” more. What’s an “actioner”? An actioner is someone who takes their dreams, creates a plan, and follows through on that plan. They pluck their dreams out of the clouds and walk them onto the streets. They take concrete steps to see their dreams through. In other words, they do something about it.

Actioners are those who will be “successful” in life. I will leave you to define “successful.” Those who dream, but do nothing about it, will continue to live a life of mediocrity. They might have an uneasy feeling deep down inside, but really, they are satisfied with a life of “Average”. Unconsciously, they are exactly who and what they want to be.

For those who are Better than Average, those who stand out from the crowd, those who want to leave this world a little bit better then when they arrived, this uneasy feeling gnaws at them. It tears them up when they can’t work on their dream. It pains them when they are forced to do something else. It’s like their internal Chesapeake Bay Retriever, itching to go outside for a run.

The Law of Attraction can only take you so far. The mindset is right, but it misses one critical piece – action. Wishing/hoping/wanting is a good start. But the next step is critical. Take that step. Success attracts success. Become an actioner.

I leave you with a simple question: How did you work on your dream today?

(image courtesy of friend Charmaine Hammond of TheOriginalTeamToby.com)


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
Author, Speaker, Consultant
[email protected]
Download Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World

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Hark! Ye’ Ol’ Philosophy Card

Better than Average Philosophy CardPhilosophy didn’t die with the downfall of the Grecian Empire. Just because the Acropolis is in ruins doesn’t mean personal beliefs are shattered. Where does it state philosophy can only be created by old men wrapped in bed sheets?

Each of us already has our own personal philosophy somewhere inside. How we live our lives. How we treat our customers. How we run our businesses. It’s already part of us.


But when was the last time you consciously thought about your philosophy?

Clearly articulating your personal philosophy makes you stand out from the crowd. Not many people sit down, put fingers to keyboard, and root their beliefs for the world to see.

If you have read my book, Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, seen one of my speeches, or sat with me at 30,000 feet while crossing the country, you have seen these principles in action.

If you’re a first-timer or passerby, welcome, and here is what I believe.


The Better than Average Philosophy

  1. Stand out, not stick out.
  2. It doesn’t need to be grand to be glorious.
  3. Position is irrelevant to potential.
  4. Average is average for a reason.
  5. Richness comes to those who punch their own ticket.
  6. Work where you’re needed, not where you deserve.
  7. Create your own truths.
  8. Value leads to loyalty.
  9. Greater gratitude and less gimme gimme.
  10. Match strengths to best practices.
  11. You have in your power the ability to change your world now.

How do I make a Philosophy Card?

If you want to make your own philosophy card, answer the following question.

If you could have the world any way you wanted, what would it look like, feel like and be like in every way? List out your responses. Each statement completes the sentence, “I believe…”

Your responses are your philosophy.

Print it on some glossy card stock and you are in business!


What do I do with it?

  • Pass it out in addition to your business card
  • Use it as a handout
  • Challenge others to make their own cards

Average people have business cards. The Better than Average carry philosophy cards.

Next time someone hands you his business card, hand him your philosophy card (and a business card).

The world needs more transparency, honest conversation, and open books.  Let them read you and they will respond.


The idea for the philosophy card came from a fellow author and speaker, Scott Ginsberg. You may read more about him on his site here.



What do you stand for?


Worldwide visibility. If you create a philosophy card and send it to me, I will include it in a future post. I bet you won’t do it.


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]



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How to Create Relevant Value

triptikAs companies, organizations, and associations continue to struggle with the economy, there has been a ton of focus recently on “value creation”.  Loosely defined, value creation is your actions, outputs, and results which increase your worth.

As such, your company, organization, or association most likely offers “value.” But the better question is do you offer “relevant value”? In other words, can your members, customers, and employees clearly see those values which you profess and match them to benefit their situation, circumstance, and well-being?

As the world changes and evolves, so do your customers, members, and employees. What worked last year may not work this year. What was successful five years ago may not be feasible today. Do the benefits you offered yesterday still matter to the members, customers, and employees of today?

Let’s break the term “relevant value” down into its parts.

Relevant is from the Latin relevare meaning “to lessen, lighten”. Your goal as an organization is to make it easy for your customers, members, and employees. Your products, services, and results should be easy to understand, use, and interpret. They should make life simpler, straightforward, and more sincere. Are you being a burden to your customers?

Value comes from the Latin valere defined as “be strong, be well”. Members, customers, and employees, should find incredible benefit from your services. If they find only so-so benefit, when a membership term expires, a contract ends, or someone else comes along with a perceived better offer, they will jump ship. Value leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to longevity. Are you offering a strong proposition to your customers?

What is relevancy today?

Being relevant isn’t simply a matter of creating a Facebook page and a blog. It means connecting with your customers, employees, and members on their level – how and when they choose to engage.

There are only two components to being relevant:

  1. There is a clear match between benefit and circumstance.
  2. It must be simple and easy to implement.

Once you discover those elements, you will be able to offer relevant value. How do you get their attention?

Do you matter?

Yesterday, everyone was issued a Blackberry at work. Today, you bring whatever device you want.

Yesterday, you needed to visit a record store to buy music. Today, you download it.

Yesterday, you had to sit through TV commercials. Today, you fast forward.

In the age of GPS, are you still offering TripTiks?



How do you demonstrate relevant value?


For a list of 16 Easy, No Cost Ways to Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis shoot me an email and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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What is “innovation”?

Nissan Pathfinder Concept 2013, InnovationI was recently asked, “What is innovation?” in reference to the automotive industry. I said something like, “It is standing out from the crowd. In automotive, it is typically bringing features and functionality that has not previously been seen in that class of vehicle.”

But is that really innovation?

At the North American International Auto Show, held annually in January in Detroit, the Motor City, there are some days dedicated to the media. There are some days that are open to the general public. And there are some days which are dedicated to the industry. I find these industry days most intriguing.

If you’ve never seen this show, just imagine a convention center filled with cars, floor to ceiling displays, and hot models who actually know a something about the vehicles.

During industry days, hundreds of engineers from the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers swamp the auto show with all kinds of engineering-related tools –computers, cameras, tablets, tape measures and calipers. The show is totally open to industry personnel, so they can go sit in each other’s vehicles, examine components, and take measurements. It’s not uncommon to see grown men crawling on the floor under the cars. It’s unofficially known as “Spy vs. Spy” days at the auto show. And it’s perfectly legit.

The gist is that they take these ideas back to the lab and use them as a basis for “innovation.”

But is it really innovation?

What is innovation?

Merriam-Webster defines innovation as “the introduction of something new; a new idea, method, or device”.

So is it new? Or just a rehash of something old? Apple didn’t invent the portable MP3 player. They improved it. Tomislav Uzelac actually invented the first successful one in 1997 while working at Advanced Multimedia Products. It was called the AMP MP3 Playback Engine.

The Better than Average don’t necessarily need to be “innovative” to stand out from the crowd. They merely need to have enough differentiation from competitors so that it is “not typically found in an industry.”

Bringing sleek styling to an SUV, like the Nissan Pathfinder concept vehicle did at this years’ show might be considered “innovative.” When the competition still looks like you’re driving a box on wheels, they may have just changed the market.



What have you improved to stand out from your crowd?


For the first chapter of the forthcoming book Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, send an email to me and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
Author, Speaker, Consultant
[email protected]

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