Measuring culture

Early last week (11 July 2016) we invited AMP Capital (Sean Henaghan and Madeleine Mac Mahon), an Australian member of the Institute, to share with us their experience of measuring their culture through the client value proposition (CVP) and employee value proposition (EVP) scorecards developed by the Thinking Ahead Group (TAG).

Following the Institute’s 2015 research project on culture, we asked for volunteers to participate in this pilot study to examine its application to an investment organisation. AMP Capital expressed immediate interest, being a firm believer that culture is the secret sauce to organisational success and a unique ingredient for competitive advantage. They also thought they would also benefit from being able to measure the culture of the external managers they use. AMP Capital noted they have been on a long-term journey to become more client-centric (they were pleasantly surprised by their CVP score, which they had expected to be lower)  and so they proposed the idea of running this type of survey on a continuous basis (say every two years) to look into the progress they are making on that journey. Undertaking the project had, they said, been “not at all challenging”, with a simple and straightforward process to follow, and AMP Capital highly recommended other members to undertake a similar exercise.

Attendees at the webinar raised the issue that survey questions are vulnerable to “gaming” and suggested that this aspect of the analysis could be further improved. In AMP Capital’s view, two main criteria set this project apart from a standard culture survey: (1) Most of the standard culture surveys are primarily HR focused and beg the question “how does this result impact the way we serve our clients?”. The Institute framework, on the other hand, by design addresses that question explicitly and directly by linking EVP to CVP. (2) If culture is about understanding the cause and effect, the inclusion of intrinsic incentives in EVP assessment provides far more information in understanding what really drive people to perform compared to a standard culture survey. In terms of the next step, AMP Capital mentioned feeding the data from this project along with other inputs into their “Culture Refresh Group”, which will then look for one or two concrete action points to improve their culture practice over the next year or two.  

It was a stimulating and engaging hour and you might be interested in the materials from the webinar (slides and voice recording).