Why cultural frameworks are like LEGOs: Turning high-level goals into action

Talia Bailey
Product marketing manager

Cultural frameworks, or a shared set of values that your company defines, are crucial for organizational success. If culture and strategy aren’t aligned, top initiatives—from improving retention to delivering record revenue—fail.

No matter how inspiring the framework, though, it’s tough to turn lofty high-level concepts into on-the-ground action at every level of the organization. Transformation efforts that don’t engage frontline employees are 9x more likely to fail, because most employees don’t intuitively know how to translate a broad framework into their day-to-day work. 

That’s where a solution like Humu comes in. We take high-level principles and break them into small, easy-to-act-on habits — so everyone knows the next best thing they can do to build a company culture that helps everyone thrive. 

All successful company cultures are created with the same basic building blocks

While every organization is unique—and has its own set of values—all successful company cultures are formed  with the same universal building blocks. Think recognizing someone’s efforts, facilitating an inclusive meeting, or giving valuable feedback. To build an effective team, each individual team member needs to incorporate some of those building blocks into the flow of their work.

You can think of a company’s cultural framework like a custom-built LEGO creation, made up of many, many building blocks. Some LEGO creations are single-story homes while others are elaborately sky-high, futuristic structures, but they all are built with the same basic blocks.  

1. Start with a jumbled pile of bricks, or unique behaviors

Each LEGO brick represents a unique habit or behavior, like communicating feedback effectively or encouraging constructive conflict.

2. Organize behaviors by theme, like Ownership, Psychological Safety, or Creativity

Grouping habits by theme makes it easier to build a successful structure or framework. Behaviors like encouraging constructive conflict and communicating feedback effectively, for example, both help create Psychological Safety.

3. Bring your cultural framework to life

Deployed correctly, small behavior changes add up to meaningful company-wide transformation over time. Your framework will rely on many of the same behaviors and themes that top companies use, but the exact way everything comes together is as unique as your company. 

Don’t start from scratch: Following frameworks for success 

Even the most successful companies often face complex challenges, like improving diversity and inclusion, moving faster in response to change, or helping managers get better at managing. The solution to each of those problems lies in bringing the organization’s cultural framework to life, which in turn depends on every employee taking action—and ensuring that the sum of those actions leads to positive, cohesive change. 

To map cultural frameworks to individual action for every person within an organization, Humu’s People Scientists analyze data from a range of Fortune 500 companies and synthesize research-based best practices about culture transformation. They then rely on behavioral science to identify the core themes that reliably bring a specific framework to life. These themes are then cross-checked by other scientists to ensure reliability, and to create a streamlined, representative set of behaviors for each theme. Once our People Scientists agree on a set of specific behaviors that employees can easily start to build on, they use the Nudge Engine to start delivering relevant nudges. 

One Humu client, a major pharmaceutical company, invested a significant level of time, money, consulting fees, and internal personnel hours into a bespoke cultural framework. The final framework was a work of art, depicting what the company cared about at a high level with industry-specific knowledge. The company announced the new framework to great fanfare with a big all hands meeting.

But after the confetti settled, there was no way to ensure managers were acting on the behaviors and values the company spent all that time working on. To bring their cultural framework to life, the pharmaceutical company turned to Humu.

First, Humu mapped each of the company’s values, like Courage and Excellence, to key themes. Courage, for example, included themes like Creativity, Feedback, and Decision-making, while Equity included themes like Fairness and Authenticity. Then, Humu translated each theme into specific behaviors, like “Championing experimentation” and “Using time effectively.” Finally, Humu relied on its proprietary Nudge Engine to help employees put those behaviors into practice. By sending nudges—personally relevant, bite-sized suggestions—to each employee, Humu made it easy for everyone to bring the cultural framework to life in their day-to-day. 

If your company is due for a culture shift, a flexible cultural framework can help you turn those high-level goals into action. By focusing on the individual habits that power each goal, you’ll build the company culture of your dreams: new habit by new habit, brick by brick.

Ready to turn your high-level culture goals into action? Request a demo today.