I don't think there's anyone who would say that cultural change is easy, and this article states 4 ways to develop a performance culture:
Accountability - Value and Results
Cut Through Communications
Learning Environment - Growth Mindset
Excellent in Execution
I'd fully agree with all of these. Initiating any cultural or business change without a clear intent to hold people accountable for adhering, or not, to the new culture is destined to fail. Big C and little C communications are valid, and this extends to both conscious and unconscious role modelling behaviour. Developing your people to better enable them to behave in the way which your organisation needs to succeed is vital. And finally, a focus on execution is what will separate your successful change programme from the 'almost-theres'.
However, I don't believe that culture is the biggest lever you can pull in your business. At Collingwood we look at an holistic view which takes into account 'culture', 'structure' and 'strategy'. It is my belief that the biggest lever you can pull is the combination of these 3 elements - working out the correct recipe where all 3 are cohesive and supporting of eachother is what will enable your change programme to be successful.
However, cultural change is tough and is often overshadowed by the lure of a change in strategy. It is very tempting to focus on the quick gains a strategic change (in theory) can provide. Leaders can relatively easily shift strategic gears, make a few high profile appointments, refresh some job titles, publish a glossy plan and re-direct focus. What some leaders fail to recognise, is that much of this effort is utterly futile, unless the right culture is in place. Whilst they may understand the need for a sustainable performance culture, the intoxicating pull to focus on the now can overshadow the disciplined long-term approach of habit reinforcement that is required to drive the right culture.