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Understand Your Company Culture

Pirja Heiskanen • VP Operations

The values, beliefs, and behaviours practiced in an organisation - when no-one is watching.

At Futurice, we are very proud of our culture. We have built it to be the best workplace for building the digital future. For us, culture is the underlying structure, the code of conduct that explains how to behave. What is ok, and what is not.

But as proud as we are, we recognise that the culture is never constant. Over time it changes little by little around the things that people are rewarded or criticised for. To prevent the culture from drifting freely, you need to observe and direct it.

The problem is to see the behaviours you need to change and ones you need to protect. That’s why you need to understand your company culture thoroughly.

The Process

To understand how Futurice’s culture is changing, we decided to do a current state analysis (CSA) of it. It meant choosing the tools to figure out the big outlines as well as the finer details of our day to day behaviour, and composing a plan for the future.

The process started with over thirty interviews around the company. To truly understand the underlying motivations of the people, you need to meet them face to face. You need to observe, listen and ask for details.

The interview structure itself wasn’t strict. On the contrary, we wanted to keep the interviews simple and straightforward. Just enough setup to give people the context and then let them tell us what they feel is relevant and important.

Based on the interviews we found patterns. Some of them were good. Some indicated that we need to improve. All of them were important for us.

Even though the interviewees represented our different locations and competencies widely, we were happy to find some common themes in the results. In many ways our offices work quite independently from each other, but still the most important aspects of our culture can be found from all of them.

The Actions

So, what about the patterns that require improvement? That is always the tricky bit. Changing your culture is about changing how people behave. And that’s hard. I mean, really hard.

If you think you can just make corrective actions, you are badly mistaken. People are not tuned to take plain orders and obey. You need to help them see what you see. You need to discuss the issues with them. And then you need to agree together with them about the change one action at a time.

For us, this means doing a roadshow to all of our offices. Gathering the people there and going through the results together with them. It takes a lot of questions, answers, and debates to reach a common understanding on what changes need to take place. Without a common understanding there is no agreement, and without agreement there is no commitment.

We have now taken the first steps of our CSA work. Looking into the future we have a roadmap that we need to travel. But at least now we know where we are heading.

Your Culture CSA team,

Pirja Heiskanen, Tuomas Paasonen and Petri Rikkinen