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    Culture Change that Is Large-Scale and Real-Time

    When you hear the term “culture change,” what does this conjure up for you? Customer service training? Leadership development? Organizational restructuring? Snappy banners and buttons with catchy slogans? As ubiquitous as these strategies are, they will not sustain culture change over the long term. Why? Because they do not engage a critical mass of multi-levels and multi-disciplines very early on in three arenas: diagnosis, action planning, and implementation.  Evidence-based practices indicate that people support what they help create—and this is the essence of our culture change philosophy and practice that is large-scale and real-time.


    Sometimes it is easiest to understand what real-time change is by addressing what it is not. The opposite of real-time change is sequential change that occurs in separate segments. For example, there may be a formal assessment process including a survey; then a core team determines how to process this information in follow-up focus groups. Then, this information funnels to a core team who identifies the significance of these data and how to use the data to improve the culture. The more the data are funneled to others, the more these become watered down and less meaningful. And the more people become removed from culture change. While we certainly use the data from these methods as needed, these are not enough to create momentum and buy-in from all levels of the organization. Tierra Firma mobilizes a 5-phase model of culture change that embeds large-scale and real-time components into change initiatives:

    The global challenges of our time will force most organizations to reinvent themselves: who we are, what are we here for? What de we want to create? And how do we get there? The SOAR framework encourages strengths based thinking rather than deficit thinking. The focus is shifted away from weaknesses, instead, SOAR asks us to consider our aspirations. The figure below highlights the differences between SOAR and more traditional SWOT models of strategic thinking:

    Your inputs and engagement are imperative in the SOAR process of inquiry, collaboration and aligned commitment is key. We would be cautious of any consulting firm that claims they can facilitate a formal process of leadership and organizational self-discovery without first developing an understanding of who their client is.


    Regimented frameworks are not panaceas. However, they are helpful tools in guiding processes. Our clients work intimately with us on the individual and collective SOAR process. Below is a graphic representation of the path to begin SOARing: