Jon Katzenbach, Chad Gomes, Carolyn Black

Feelings are messengers of needs. Meeting needs unlocks positive feelings and energy; neglecting needs does the opposite. By integrating business objectives with meeting people’s needs, companies can make sure the strong wind of a positive emotional force is at their back. Emotions and feelings bring our needs — human requirements for survival — to our attention and strongly move us toward meeting them. 


Our feelings … [ Read more ]

The Power of Feelings at Work

By aligning the pursuit of business objectives with the meeting of human needs, companies can tap into powerful emotional forces in their current cultural situations.

10 Principles of Organizational Culture

Companies can tap their natural advantage when they focus on changing a few important behaviors, enlist informal leaders, and harness the power of employees’ emotions.

Jon Katzenbach, Ilona Steffen, and Caroline Kronley

It’s tempting to dwell on the negative traits of your culture, but any corporate culture is a product of good intentions that evolved in unexpected ways and will have many strengths. They might include a deep commitment to customer service (which could manifest itself as a reluctance to cut costs) or a predisposition toward innovation (which sometimes leads to “not invented here” syndrome). If you … [ Read more ]

Jon Katzenbach, Rutger von Post, and James Thomas

We have found, through numerous cultural interventions with a wide range of organizations […] that companies that eschew all-encompassing culture change initiatives and instead focus on three specific elements—critical behaviors, existing cultural traits, and critical informal leaders—have the most success. We call these “the critical few.”

Jon Katzenbach, Rutger von Post, and James Thomas

How you treat your employees determines how they treat customers.

Cultural Change That Sticks

When properly harnessed, an organization’s culture can be a true differentiator that no competitor can duplicate. However, as pressures on companies build, leaders often become frustrated with the comparatively slow pace of culture evolution. In the rush to implement new strategies and make performance improvements, the legacy culture—employees’ ingrained ways of doing things—can seem like the greatest barrier to change. Unfortunately, most well-intended efforts to … [ Read more ]

The Critical Few: Components of a Truly Effective Culture

Forget the monolithic change management programs and focus on the elements of your culture that drive performance.

Life in the Matrix

As companies evolve away from traditional hierarchies, a major cultural shift is required.

Editor’s Note: This article is partly a conceptual piece on the matrix structure and partly a case study of PepsiCo Mexico Foods (PMF). While the big picture topic covered is important, I found the case study to be a weak supporter of the argument and the conceptual component to be incredibly lacking. But, … [ Read more ]

Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (In)Formal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results

From the bestselling coauthor of the business classic The Wisdom of Teams comes an all-new exploration of the modern workplace, and how leaders and managers must embrace it for success. Katzenbach and Khan examine how two distinct factions together form the bigger picture for how organizations actually work: the more defined “formal” organization of a company-the management structure, performance metrics, and processes-and the “informal”-the culture, … [ Read more ]

The Right Role for Top Teams

Analysis of informal networks offers a potent leadership model for the C-suite: Make top teams the hub of the enterprise, and watch performance improve.

The Steve Jobs Way

Leaders can learn a lot from the late Apple CEO, but not all of it should be emulated.

Stop Blaming Your Culture

Start using it instead — to reinforce and build the new behaviors that will give you the high-performance company you want.

Jon Katzenbach

A real team, in my view, is something very specific. It differs from the more common “single-leader unit” in three important ways. First, all members of a real team have an equal level of emotional commitment to the team’s purpose and goals. Second, the leadership role shifts easily among the members based on the skills and experience they have and the challenges of the moment, … [ Read more ]

Jon Katzenbach

In the early 1900s, a thoughtful organizational thinker named Mary Parker Follett called out the critical difference between compromise and integration. A team that compromises has settled for the lowest common denominator: a solution, no matter how incomplete, to which all can easily agree, just to move things forward. Compromised solutions made in this way are more likely to break down.

A team that integrates, by … [ Read more ]

Jon Katzenbach and Ashley Harshak

The ability to diagnose the beneficial attributes of a culture, and then use them to motivate strategically important behavior, is one of the key factors that differentiate peak-performing organizations from the also-rans in their field.

Jon Katzenbach and Ashley Harshak

A corporate culture takes some of its attributes from the professional and educational background of participants. An electronics engineering–driven company has a very different cultural ambiance from a pharmaceutical firm, a bank, or a “metal-bending” manufacturer. Culture is also influenced by the attitudes of the founders, the location of the headquarters, the types of customers that the company serves, and the experiences people have together. … [ Read more ]

Leading Outside the Lines

In every company, there are really two organizations at work: the informal and the formal. High-performance companies mobilize their informal organizations while maintaining and adding formal structures, balancing the two.

Are You Killing Enough Ideas?

Companies can improve their innovation performance by getting their formal and informal organizations in sync.

Zia Khan and Jon Katzenbach

Most organizations have discrete formal groups and processes that use different lenses for evaluating ideas: Marketing represents the customers, finance evaluates the economics, and engineering determines feasibility for launch. They answer the questions in series, and then “throw the problem over the wall” to the next team. They may not even be aware of one another’s findings.

The principles of focused accountability or clear decision rights … [ Read more ]