Denkwerkstatt für Manager

Geschwill & Nieswandt

Lateral management

Individual concepts for culture change in companies

No matter how brilliantly a corporate strategy is formulated, if the corporate culture opposes it, it cannot be successfully implemented.
Or as Peter Drucker puts it: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
This aphorism by Drucker was the initial spark in 2010 for the Denkwerkstatt für Manager; and we started doing research: What is corporate culture? How can it be changed? What does culture have to do with strategy? We firmly believe that change management actually means cultural change management.
Therefore, we explored the questions: What is cultural change management and how sustainable is it? How are successes measured and is that even possible?
Why aren't there KCIs (Key Culture Indices) in addition to the well-known KPIs? Culture measurement rarely exists as a dashboard in organizations. Yet cultural factors are just as important for corporate management as business indicators.

The culture is always evolving. The best way to illustrate this is a case study of how lateral management was implemented.

Every company is unique, and so is every Denkwerkstatt concept.

Martina Nieswandt conducted research for her doctoral thesis at the University of Surrey until 2012 (published by Palgrave Macmillan in London 2015). She was looking for answers, but was determined to find them in practice. To do this, she spent almost three years accompanying a German construction company with the goal of making lasting changes to the company's culture. This work is the foundation of our successful business model. On this foundation, we accompany organizations for about two years in their culture changes. And these years of experience on the measured, cultural success of self-responsible working people in organizations, as well as the tools for a disruptive culture change in companies, no other consulting company has. 
With the contractor, there was measurement at the beginning of the project in 2012, ongoing progress surveys for two years, and a final measurement. And not only that. Individual workshops and coaching sessions were also held. To check for sustainability, we conducted another performance measurement five years later. In 2016, the managers surveyed described the results of the culture change from 2008 as an important foundation for their current corporate success. Culture change was thus the decisive success criterion there. In this context, culture change is not seen as a completed process (like classic other change projects); the culture is always evolving.

How we work in lateral management projects

To steer change towards a lateral culture, the Denkwerkstatt für Manager from Mannheim has developed a dashboard for Key Culture Indices (KCIs) and introduced it in companies.
So far, organizations have implemented rather partial solutions to sense the mood at the grassroots level of the company. In most companies, annual surveys on satisfaction (Best Place to Work, etc.) or employee loyalty (Gallup, etc.) are conducted both at employee level and at various management levels. The AOK Baden-Württemberg has an employee barometer. Every 4 months, employees answer standardized questions about how satisfied they are with their work in the department. These were the first attempts at problem solving.

The most pragmatic solution Lazlo Blocks from Google, to include KPIs and KCIs in parallel in the management assessment, convinced us. Peter Drucker's credo that you can't manage what you can't measure also applies to corporate culture. The difficulty of measuring KCIs is that one has to use qualitative and quantitative survey methods. This means that about 90 % are quantitative measurements, about 10 % are qualitative surveys. This is feasible. What is particularly difficult about measuring corporate culture, however, is the complexity of the concept of culture for organizations. Denkwerkstatt für Manager has evaluated more than 100 culture concepts to create the LCI. In the meantime, we have developed 5 important parameters for the standardized measurement of KCIs in companies together with some partner companies.

If you want to read up, you will find a lot of information in our publication  Lateral management - the success principle for companies in the digital age


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