Why does culture transformation set up the frame for hypergrowth?

By Andrew YJ Kim
June 16, 2020

Unleashing the power of self-directed teams and team-level strategy

Many people already recognize that culture can have a large impact on business productivity. However, few can actually rationalize this. This is because the action-items and immediate impact of culture initiatives tend to be intangible and subjective. The real value of culture targets the foundation and DNA of the organization, and improves long-term productivity and viability. In addition to that, it shifts how we do everything else. Therefore, the real impact of culture tends to get masked behind the immediately preceding efforts to produce desired results, rather than culture itself.

That being said, if we have a stronger understanding of how culture strategy impacts enormous business productivity, we can justify approaching culture by design rather than default. Unfortunately, most organizations allow culture to develop unintentionally, and succumb to the mindset that this is just the way it is if they encounter culture dysfunction. That mindset can create a trap that prevents them from dealing with the underlying issues by applying a “band-aid” or “sweeping things under the rug”.

To help visualize how this makes such a large impact within organizations, we are going to explore two dimensions of changes that we are trying to make with a deliberate culture change.

    • TRADITIONAL HIERARCHAL TEAM – These are teams that a “boss” that over-utilizes hierarchy to mobilize their teams. Such teams are extremely dependent on the boss, and without them, it would fall apart. There is usually a lack of holistic perspectives and an overdependence on technical skills and processes to meet objectives.
    • SELF-DIRECTED TEAM – The anatomy of a self-directed team is very different from the former. Though there is still an emphasis on technical skills and process, there is an increased emphasis on collaboration. Self-directed teams have balanced perspectives on issues, mutual trust, ownership and accountability. There is an increased focus on people-development, holistic problem solving, and upwards-management.
    • LEVEL 1 – This is a team that requires the leader to get extremely involved in coordinating the execution of tasks.
    • LEVEL 2 – This is a team that can independently perform a routine set of tasks and adapt to regular priority shifts and problems that arise.
    • LEVEL 3 – This is a team that can define their own set of tasks within prescribed boundaries of centralized support and task-breakdown methodologies.
    • LEVEL 4 – This is a team that can create their own tactics with open-ended objectives defined by senior leadership.
    • LEVEL 5 – This is a team that can create their own strategy and over-arching goals based upon a centralized enterprise-level strategy.
    • LEVEL 6 – This is a team that demonstrates competence and ownership in setting a new and innovative strategic direction for the organization.

Let’s explore a scenario to illustrate how this works:

Imagine a before/after scenario of what we may hope to accomplish with a culture strategy effort. Let’s imagine that we have a centralized executive team and three peripheral teams that are all traditional hierarchal in nature. In the centralized team, you still need to get involved to design their tasks. Of the three peripheral teams, two of them need hand-holding for basic execution. One of them is more developed and can handle basic adaptations to work.


By implementing a successful culture change, we may be successful in converting those teams to self-directed teams, and improve the strategic capabilities of the team. Imagine that you are successful in converting your centralized team to a Level 5, whereas two of your peripheral teams reach Level 3, and one reaches Level 4.


This would tremendously change the ecosystem of how the organization functions and produces results. This in turn can make the following impact:

  • INCREASES AMOUNT OF LEADER/MANAGER’S TIME – When we have greater self-direction and ownership in the strategic capabilities, it greatly increases the bandwidth of the leaders time
  • INCREASED REVENUE, PRODUCTIVITY, OR SUCCESS RATE OF REACHING OBJECTIVES – Depending on the type of teams you are dealing with, we often exhibit increased revenues, productivity, or increased success in reaching objectives.

Often times by default, when leaders are in a situation where they have additional time and resources, they do one or more of the following:

  • SCALE: TO GROW AND EXPAND – This can result in increased number of teams or reach to more customer/clients. Other times, it can be expanding different types of functions.
  • REFINE PROCESSES – Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to grow and it makes more sense to continuously refine their existing processes to do a better job
  • RECAPTURE FREEDOM OR BALANCE IN LIFE – Sometimes, neither is what the leader wants, and their aim is to recapture a balance in life.

Cumulatively, this makes a large impact. Based on the leader’s wishes, it can lead to a trajectory of continuous and sustainable growth. Other times, it can help guide the leader to rebalancing their life or getting back to the true reason why they got into business in the first place.

As you can see, intentional culture strategy sets this foundation for hypergrowth, and leaders have the freedom to decide what to do with it.

If you’re a leader who understands the value of culture strategy and want to lead this change, or if you’d like to learn more about how we guide organizations during this difficult process, drop us a message and let’s get in touch!