One on One with Deloitte's Anthony Abbatiello


The importance of company culture has grown considerably in recent decades, to the point where it can now be directly pegged to how an organization positions itself to accomplish its long- and short-term goals. But identifying misalignment of culture and business goals can be a challenge to suss out. To that end, Deloitte recently rolled out CulturePath, a culture analytics and methodology for measuring culture that focuses on driving behavior to align with business strategy. Consulting sat down with Anthony Abbatiello, a principal in Deloitte’s Human Capital practice and the global leader of Deloitte Leadership, who talked about CulturePath and shared his insights on the link between company culture and business success. 

Consulting: How did CulturePath come to be?

Abbatiello: Deloitte has been helping clients transform the organizational culture for more than 15 years, but over the last few years organizational culture has been top of mind for many of our C-suite clients because business is changing more rapidly and becoming more competitive than ever. To attain top talent and remain competitive, organizations must really be able to connect with their employees and workforce at large. When we think about that, in order for them to thrive in that environment they must understand their employees’ beliefs and motivations and connect those emotionally influenced decisions and actions to their business strategy. As part of that we looked at while we’ve been transforming cultures and working with clients’ culture what it really takes now is this view of alignment of the business strategy to the cultural attributes of the organization and actively managing that.

We developed CulturePath which encompasses a lot of what we do, we developed the Deloitte culture framework that has 8 indices split in two; 4 that are core and foundational to every organization and 4 that are positively correlated and differentiating, the more a company has of them the better. We developed that based on this idea that if clients align their culture the way they align their strategic investments they’ll be able to drive the organization to achieve the results of the strategy. Then we developed the analytics product behind it, which is essentially CulturePath, which allows this analytics insight engine to drive the clients’ understanding of where they’re actually at and how they can turn the dials to focus on what attributes are important to drive certain behaviors that support the strategy.

Consulting: How turnkey is it?

Abbatiello: From a defining the clients’ culture and the attributes and doing the diagnostic it’s 90 percent turnkey—clients can really pick up and go with it. What requires a client’s time is that active management. On the front end we’re focused on new product innovation, for example, to do that in our strategy what are the attributes we need to assign to those that will drive that. Once we have that then it’s turnkey, we can look at the diagnostic and see the insight. Then on the back end, if we said we wanted to innovate new products but courage or change and innovation are low in our scores then we want to change and focus on those behaviors and systemic processes that will enable those behaviors.

Consulting: How does CulturePath help companies keep an eye on their culture?

Abbatiello: The solution itself helps first providing that insight and diagnostics, so they get to see exactly what areas to focus on. It helps businesses understand and actively shape what are those behaviors affecting their culture so employees are engaged and can deliver the business strategy. Then by looking at the broad cultural attributes and breaking them into measureable behaviors the insights you would then have through CulturePath enable leaders to make decisions about processes, things like commerce management, annual budgeting, go-to-market or sales strategy or marketing. Those processes and talent in the organization are aligned with the focus of the business strategy. It’s really vetted in the analytics and the insight that starts with the diagnostic and the ability to have the attributes and manage that on an ongoing basis.

Consulting: What’s implementation like?

Abbatiello: It depends. On the diagnostic piece it’s relatively short. The definition, the strategy, the diagnostic piece, depending on your organization you could have that insight for yourself ready to go in six to eight weeks, from what’s our strategy, using the diagnostic to determine where the gaps are and develop the plan. The part where it depends is that implementation side. We can get to that point where we have the insights and we can monitor and measure this on an ongoing basis but then the actions that come out of that are where the it “depends” come in.

Consulting: Is CulturePath best suited for companies who are already aware of their specific culture issues or companies who know there are issues but aren’t sure where they lie?

Abbatiello: Deloitte is changing the game around culture. The real issue isn’t, is culture bad or good? Deloitte is taking it to a new place of that it’s not if culture is “bad” or “good”—it’s bad for your organization if your culture is not aligned to your strategy. Our focus is more on getting and changing the mindset of business leaders to look at culture like they do capital investment, revenue plans, managing the P&L. You have to actively manage the culture and the attributes of the culture so they’re in alignment with what they’re trying to accomplish in their business strategy. You hear a lot in the media around culture, culture, culture that it sounds like it’s negative—the reality is there’s a misalignment, and so when that occurs that’s when you start to see these issues come alive. Companies should be looking at culture. Not how to change it, but how to enable the right attributes that are needed in the culture to drive the results you are looking for in the business.

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