Culture Change

We have started running mini-polls on the BPTrends website. In February, we asked which of four options best described a reader’s interest in BPM and Culture Change.  We did this, in part, because in the fall BPTrends Survey we asked about “culture change” and found that a large number of respondents said their organizations thought it was important.  Proceeding from that, we began to research the topic and quickly discovered that there are a variety of practices all going under the rubric of “culture change” and wondered, in hindsight, what type of culture change our readers had in mind. To date only 27 people have responded to our poll, so we can hardly draw any definitive conclusions from that, but let’s at least consider what our 27 respondents said:

What best describes your organization's interest in BPM and Culture Change?
  • Our organization isn't focused on BPM and Culture Change at the present time (14%, 6 Votes)
  • How can activity managers facilitate acceptance of changes to work flow processes among employees (19%, 8 Votes)
  • How can process and line managers facilitate the acceptance of major changes in a business process among mid-level managers (38%, 16 Votes)
  • How can senior management support Cultural Change (29%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 42


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As you can see, the four options we provided range “no effort at this time” to three possibilities, scaling from small changes (where supervisors work to change specific employee behaviors) to mid-size and large changes.   Four say their organizations aren’t involved in culture change at this time, which means that 23 are involved, one way or another.  Of those, most (9) are focused on how to gain acceptance for major business process changes, which is what we would have expected.

In our review of the literature, we noticed that some people were using the term “culture change” to refer to small scale changes, in which a supervisor encourages and reinforces employees for specific activities.  We, personally, would have used the term “human performance improvement” to refer to such specific changes, but we wanted to explore how others used the term.  Clearly a number of people (6) do refer to specific activity changes as culture change.

We tend to think of “culture” as a large-scale phenomena – as one might use the term to compare and contrast the cultures of the US and China.   When we apply the term to process work in organization’s we think of an organization as having a culture, a set of beliefs and assumptions that most people in an organization share, once they have worked for the organization for awhile.  Thus, some organizations are very sales oriented, while others are focused on quality, and still others are focused on offering the latest and most sophisticated technology – as Apple has been in the last few years.

What our survey suggests is that the term “culture change” is being used in different ways, and that at least a sizable number of respondents use the term to refer to much more specific types of change.  

Hopefully as more readers respond to this poll, we will develop a better idea of how BPM people use the term.



  1. Marco Mafra says

    Agree. The culture changes, in wide aspect (… “a set of beliefs and assumptions that most people in an organization share, once they have worked for the organization for awhile”…) is primordial for the success of BPM for those Organization that want to have BPM as a discipline, not only as an project. For that happening, the leadership has a very important role by understanding the meaning of BPM, by leading the effort for changes, being himself a agent of changes which will enable whole organization be sailing in to the same north ( BPM tied to the strategy). The BPM by himself without a culture change and without an inspired Leadership, can bring fair results (if well implemented) instead to bring optimum results and a optimizable and innovative organization. Thx, M

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