Identify the Critical Few Behaviors that Energize Your Company

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Leave a comment on this post to become eligible to win one of twenty complimentary copies of, The Critical Few: Energize Your Company’s Culture by Choosing What Really Matters.” (Deadline is 2/4/2019)

(International winners will receive electronic versions.)

Organizational culture has a life of its own. It shapes you. It changes slowly. You can guide it. Over decades you can transform it.

“Culture is the self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing that determine how things get done in an organization.” (The Critical Few)

3 elements of culture transformation:

#1. Cultural Traits: characteristics at the heart of people’s emotional connection to what they do.

#2. Keystone Behaviors: actions that enhance success when replicated across organizations.

#3. Authentic Informal Leaders: influencers with high connectedness.

The power of culture is that it’s, “…implicit rather than explicit, emotional rather than rational.” (The Critical Few)


Transformation begins from your current position – your traits.

  1. What makes you proud to work here?
  2. What elements of your culture get in the way?
  3. Who makes decisions?
  4. What drives decisions? Data, intuition, or experience?
  5. What is the connection between customers and operations?
  6. Do people tend to be more interested in history or the future?
  7. How do people respond to risk?
  8. Are you more self-sufficient or collaborative?
  9. How hierarchical is your company?
  10. What role does improvisation play?


Once you identify and explore traits, you can begin to identify a critical few transformative behaviors.

The critical few behaviors have:

  1. Leadership support.
  2. Relevance.
  3. Energy.
  4. Impact.
  5. Ease of implementation.
  6. Measurability.
  7. Visibility.
  8. Viral-ability. They catch on.

Ask the following questions to identify the critical few behaviors.

  1. Will senior leadership adopt and role-model the behaviors?
  2. Will the behaviors impact critical business objectives?
  3. Does the behavior-change create motivation and momentum?
  4. Will the behavior-change lead to visible impact quickly?
  5. Can the behavior-change be implemented without other major changes?
  6. Can the behavior-change be measured?
  7. Does the behavior-change include a high degree of symbolism?
  8. Does the behavior-change catch on because it makes work easier?

Authentic Informal Leaders:

Successful transformation requires enthusiasm and participation of authentic informal leadership.

What de-energizes company culture?

What energizes company culture?

This post is based on the new book, “The Critical Few,” by Jon Katzenbach, James Thomas, and Gretchen Anderson. The book giveaway is sponsored by Berrett-Koehler.