the better matter

Agile subculture developement as the basis for a sustainable corporate culture

Julia Schmitt

Pia Schmutz


The development of the working world towards higher agility, the flexibilization of workplaces or the pressure for digital transformation makes companies have to adapt in a short time. They must respond to this pressure to change in order to meet new employee-needs and compete against their competitors.
How a company responds to change depends heavily on its organizational culture, which is why actively shaping it is essential to the company's success.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) find it particularly difficult to shape their culture because they lack internal experts or financial resources for external support. Mistakes in culture design, such as treating the process as a one-time project, the exclusive development of culture in management levels and the lack of active involvement of employees, their needs and requirements, often result in a gap between intended and lived culture inside the company.
A culture that cannot be sustainably established in the company prevents organizations from realizing their full potential.

the better matter - concept

The goal of the better matter is to break down the huge task of culture change and to start with small but important steps exactly where a strong driving force of sustainable corporate culture lies: with the employees. For this purpose, a workshop format with accompanying materials was developed that small and medium-sized companies can use in their teams to promote an employee-oriented and agile development of their corporate culture.

For the toolset, processes and methods from management consulting as well as agile working, and design thinking were combined to develop a culture design process that promotes the most sustainable changes possible. The resulting toolset contains a collection of a total of 21 methods that guide through the design of a team culture. With the help of a comprehensive manual, teams are empowered to work independently on their team culture.

Teams start with an initial kick-off and then go through five phases of culture design to uncover internal issues and incorporate ideas from team members.

Workshop schedule

The workshop covers four topics that are important for a good team culture: Flexibility of work, psychological safety, encouragement and caring, and clearly articulated visions, procedures and processes. With the help of a questionnaire, teams can find out in which areas they can improve. Through guided application of the methods, internal problems are addressed and new requirements or relevant desires are pursued. Once a goal has been set and ideas have been developed, the most promising solution is tested in the employees' everyday work. The idea can then be adapted and finally integrated into everyday life.In this way, employees contribute their ideas and solutions to the company within a set framework and, along the way, improve the collaboration of their team.

Agile design and cultural network

After the first workshop run-through, the format can be continued as an agile way of working for developing culture in the team. Different entry points offer a flexible and time-saving option to develop the team culture continuously and in the long term. In addition, there is accompanying material to help build a culture network in the company so that culture design does not just take place selectively. This information provides initial impetus for discussing and developing an intentional culture within the company. The agile design of subcultures not only helps companies to respond more specifically to the needs and requirements of employees and to let them participate in the progress of the company, but also to profit from the results in the future.

Information about the project as well as the analogue and digital toolset can be accessed via the landing page www.thebettermatter.com.
The workshop format consists of various group and individual methods. The workshop is conducted by a facilitator who's instructions are accompanied by additional help on the worksheets.
the better matter – booklet cover
After the first run-through, the format can be used as an agile way of working for culture design in a team, as different entries into the phases are possible. Intermediate results can be recorded on the "Milestone Plan", which forms an entry point for further workshops.
Cultural ambassadors are appointed in order to bring cultural design into the company on a sustainable basis. They can build up a cultural network by providing assistance.
21 methods with appropriate digital and analog working materials are accompanied by a manual with detailed instructions and information on sustainable culture design.