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In many respects, leadership is an exercise in building culture. However
you define it, culture is the glue that holds organizations together. It may
be the only truly sustainable competitive advantage for any organization.
Culture is often impacted by pivotal events, such as a new leader
joining an organization, presenting opportunities to accelerate culture
change and deliver better results. Culture change is about bridging the
gap between the current state and the desired state—that which is
needed to achieve the organization’s mission and goals.
The greater the cultural differences, the more difficult the adaptation
or change will be. There’s real power in understanding the most
important cultural differences and then building a plan to bridge those
gaps over time.
Some define culture simply as “the way we do things around here.”
Others conduct complex analyses to define it more scientifically.
Instead, blend both schools of thought into an implementable approach
that defines culture as an organization’s behaviors, relationships, attitudes,
values, and the environment (BRAVE).
The BRAVE framework is relatively easy to apply yet offers a relatively robust way to identify,
engage, and change a culture. It makes culture real, tangible, identifiable,
and easy to talk about.
It’s helpful to tackle the BRAVE components from the outside in
with five questions, as shown in Table 1.1.
When evaluating each element of culture, think of it on a sliding
scale (say 1–5), rather than in absolute terms. The specific dimensions
within each cultural component may vary from situation to situation.
2. THE NEW LEADER’S 100-DAY ACTION PLAN
You may find the components and dimensions below particularly
Environment is where the organization decides to play in the
context of the situation it faces.
• Is the impetus for growth found more in opportunities to capture
or more in problems to solve?
• Are the growth enablers more human, interpersonal, and societal
or more technological, mechanical, and scientific?
• Are the main barriers more external hurdles or more internal
Values are what matters to the organization and its people and
• What’s the organization’s purpose: mission (why), vision (what),
and values (how), and is it interpreted more as intended and
evolving or more as written and set?
• Is the approach to risk more about risking more to gain more over
time or more about protecting what is now?
• Is the approach to learning more open and shared or more
Attitudes are how the organization chooses to win across strategy,
posture, and approach.
• Is the fundamental strategy more premium price, innovation, and
high service or more low price, minimum viable product, and selfservice?
Environment Where to play? (Context)
Values What matters and why? (Purpose)
Attitudes How to win? (Choices)
Relationships How to connect? (Communication)
Behaviors What impact? (Implementation)
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