Arkaro’s Approach to Culture During Change Initiatives

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Experience counts for successful change initiatives.

Arkaro’s corporate veterans know the theory and have learned practice from experience.

Garrett Forsythe & Mark Blackwell

Every organization has a unique culture and way that work gets done.  Within a large organization, there are often sub-cultures in  businesses units and functions.  When change initiatives are introduced by leaders, these cultural distinctives can be enablers or roadblocks towards achieving desired goals.

While the most natural response to change in organizations is resistance, and holding on to current practices and work processes there are effective and proven ways to initiate and carry out successful change programs. A deliberate approach to change is needed, and Arkaro’s approach focuses on two critical dimensions that are often missed:

  • Build the roadmap with the team, don’t put it on them. When the team is part of the design, you not only get input that only the people on the front lines can provide, but it becomes their design, with emotional connection.
  • Train Leaders Throughout the Organization for Role Modeling. Arkaro’s training modules are more focused than traditional and enable leaders, especially the project leaders, to inspire the organization.

Arkaro is nimble and can follow where the issues are found and adapt as needed. 

All initiatives require change management!

New initiatives can be clearly scoped and defined like driving asset productivity or specific cost reductions. Change programs can also be broader such as building an improved cross-functional innovation processes and culture across a business group.  

All initiatives require change management

A deliberate approach to change management is required to end the cycles of failures

Research tells us that only one-third of change initiatives reach their intended goals.  Typically, programs get off to a fast start, gain some initial improvements and then fizzle out slowly.  

With the primary focus on the desired business improvement, cultural considerations are often either ignored or brushed aside as “soft stuff” that “is what it is”. 

People change, if they see others, especially their leaders, change. Additionally, it is essential that leaders’ actions are combined with a compelling change story. With change initiated, people need the skills to behave differently, and confidence that managing processes will reward them for changing.

Taking a deliberate approach to address cultural and behavioral considerations is not only smart but crucial to ensure that change initiatives take root and grow and then can be sustained.

Without purposeful change management many initiatives fail

Why change programs fail

Initiatives can be derailed at all parts of the change journey – from design through implementation.  Often, consideration is not given to how change impacts people, processes and the tools and skills of the organization.

The majority of initiatives fail

Arkaro consultants have been on all sides of change management, in the line organization being “driven by others” to change, as consultants within the company developing and leading the change, and as external consultants helping to build project teams to develop and drive change.  This experience has helped to see what works in part, what works very well, and, most importantly, what to avoid – at each stage of a proposed (and in progress!) change initiative.  We use the 80/20 rule to ensure attention is given to the high-priority work at each stage of the improvement roadmap – from concept phase through to a sustainable conclusion.

Building a change roadmap with your team

Every consultant offers a change management roadmap regardless of size, scope and organizational cultural distinctives; but as corporate veterans, we know the futility of forcing programs on people, preferring it to build plans with your team.

Build and follow a roadmap


Initiatives often do not take into account how the organization culture has to adapt, change and adjust.  For example, if fully understanding all stakeholder “must-haves” is glossed over, the roadmap can miss key elements that could derail progress.  Also, careful selection of the project team, ensuring members have the “street credibility” needed, must be considered.  Roadmap building can be addressed by proven methods, tools and training in a synergistic way with the technical-based improvements that are being addressed in the current organization and business processes.

Key training modules for change management

Leaders at all levels, and especially the project team leading the initiatives, need to model and support the needed behaviors. They also need to provide one-on-one and group training along with the consultant team.  Reinforcing the desired “to-state” as contrasted with the “current state” is crucial to begin to embed the new processes, practices and behaviors within the business team and organization.  The Arkaro team has honed this down to a few key modules which have been proven to work. 

Arkaro modules are customized to leaders at all levels in the organization.  For example, a senior leader might spend more time working with the vision, the “why”, and their personal story while a front-line leader might need practical training on delegation, conflict resolution, and effective meeting design.

Arkaro techniques for strengthening senior leader role modelling

The bottom line is that experience matters

Experienced eyes from an external view can see the barriers to change that are  below the surface and throughout the organization.  Creating a change roadmap with Arkaro incorporates these insights that  helps to build the case for change as well as in implementation. With a clear roadmap that clearly incorporates the cultural and behavioral aspects of change. This along with the business improvement goals and new practices/methods, a comprehensive change management program has much higher probability to succeed. The change will be more likely accepted, and better yet, willingly received, by the line organization to ensure sustainability and, most critical, their willing engagement.

When experience matters - Arkaro Change Management Consultants
Garrett Forsythe - Independent Business Consultant Arkaro
Garrett Forsythe

Garrett has 40 years of experience in business and operational line leadership and commercial operational improvement execution.  He has led and managed high hazard chemical processes, large capital project teams, global supply chains, marketing and sales teams, global business teams and six sigma improvement teams.  
He is certified as a John Maxwell Team coach and trainer as well as a Six Sigma master black belt.

Garrett is based in Georgia, USA 

Mark Blackwell - independent consultant Arkaro
Mark Blackwell

With over 25 years of experience Mark has global line management and consultancy experience across innovation, product management, marketing, sales and supply chain built on strong analytical capabilities and business acumen.   
A 6 Sigma Black Belt, Mark was internal business consultant and productivity business leader in DuPont covering a range of industries including advanced materials, agriculture & speciality chemicals and nutrition & health. 

Mark is based in the Geneva, Switzerland area.