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Organizational Culture Transformation Strategies

Ann Le Cam

Ann Le Cam

24 minutes

Mar 31, 2024

Organizational Culture Transformation Strategies
Interview Highlights

McKinsey and Company found that 70% of change efforts fail when it comes to organizational change.

It’s quite shocking, isn’t it?

This stark truth highlights the major challenges organizations face when attempting to change their culture. Transforming culture involves more than just introducing new strategies or processes. It requires fundamentally changing deeply rooted beliefs, values, and behaviors.

To understand the challenges and how to deal with them for switching into a new culture, we spoke with Ann Le, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School who has had an impressive 30-year career journey, from Disneyland Paris to Walt Disney Animation Studios. More recently, she held the position of global head of talent and animation production at Weta FX in New Zealand.

Here are the key insights we gain from her suggestions.

Understanding the Challenges

Why does cultural transformation pose such a big challenge? Ann Le Cam sheds light on this complex issue.

Drawing from her extensive experience in the creative industries, including roles at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Le Cam offers invaluable insights into the hurdles organizations encounter on their transformation journey.

The Deep-Seated Nature of Cultural Change

Cultural transformation goes beyond more than surface-level adjustments. It requires you to break old habits that are deeply ingrained and make things challenging for you.

Time and Effort Investment

Achieving meaningful cultural change requires solid commitment and sustained effort over an extended period. It goes beyond simply changing individual behaviors; it involves reshaping organizational structures, processes, and systems.

Overcoming Resistance

Resistance to change is quite normal. Thanks to employees’ comfort with the status quo or a reluctance to face the unknown challenge.

Overcoming this resistance requires efficient leadership, open communication, and a willingness to address underlying concerns.

Long-Term Commitment

Cultural transformation is a journey, not a destination. It requires dedication from leaders and the organization as a whole. Changes don’t happen or show results overnight, meaning that you should have a patient, persistent approach.

Navigating the Transformation Journey

Le Cam's insights offer a roadmap for navigating the complexities of cultural transformation:

Building Trust and Relationships

Establishing trust is super important, especially when taking over new leadership roles or leading transformative initiatives. In such scenarios, Le Cam emphasizes the importance of listening, curiosity, and open communication in building trust and rapport with stakeholders.

Embracing Impatience with Patience

While a sense of urgency is essential for bringing changes, leaders must balance it with patience. Rushing the transformation process can be counterproductive, hindering genuine progress. Understanding and respecting the pace of change is crucial.

Creating Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is one of the building blocks of cultural transformation. Leaders must cultivate an environment where employees feel empowered to speak up, share ideas, and take calculated risks without fear of judgment.

Aligning Purpose and Values

Successful transformation also hinges on alignment—alignment of purpose, values, and direction across the organization. Leaders should not only understand the reasons behind bringing changes but also ponder over the direction, process, and results those changes bring.

Creating a Problem-Centric Approach

Le Cam stresses the importance of people-centric approaches in driving organizational change.

She highlights understanding the problem before creating solutions—a principle that lies at the heart of effective transformation efforts.

Final Thoughts

As organizations navigate the tumultuous waters of cultural transformation, they must embrace patience, build trust, foster psychological safety, and align purpose and values. This way, they defy the odds and emerge stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to work in an ever-evolving landscape.

Official Transcript

According to a study by McKinsey and Company, 70% of all change efforts fail. This is a sobering statistic that highlights the challenges organizations face when attempting to transform their culture.

One reason culture transformation is so challenging is that it involves changing people's deeply ingrained beliefs, values, and behaviors. These are often deeply rooted and difficult to alter, especially if they have been reinforced over time.

Additionally, cultural transformation requires a significant amount of time and effort, as well as strong leadership and communication. It involves not only changing individual behaviors but also reshaping the organization’s structures, processes, and systems. Moreover, cultural transformation often faces resistance from employees who are comfortable with the status quo and may feel threatened by change.

This resistance can manifest in many forms, such as apathy, passive aggression, or even outright sabotage.

Finally, cultural transformation requires a long-term commitment from leaders and the organization as a whole. Change cannot happen overnight. And it takes a sustained effort and focus to ensure that the desired cultural shift is embedded into the organization's DNA. Joining us today is Ann Le Cam, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School, who brings with her a wealth of experience in the creative industries.

Her impressive 30-year progression has taken her from Disneyland Paris to Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles, where she served as the SVP of studio planning and talent. More recently, she served as the global head of talent and animation production at Weta FX in New Zealand.

Ann, thank you so much for being here - welcome.

Ann Le Cam: Thank you, Felicia, it's a pleasure.

Felicia Shakiba: Ann you've had a varied career path starting in LA and eventually moving into talent management, and then a functional leader as Head of Production.

What was the trigger that led to a dual role in talent and production?

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