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Procter & Gamble

One blustery November day, a Director at Procter & Gamble voiced what had long been on his mind: "How do we ensure a sustainable innovation capability?" For his R&D department, there was only one acceptable answer: proactively initiate an organizational culture change.

There were more than enough other good reasons to shift the culture. This organization, like most others today, was faced with external challenges like global economic and political uncertainty, and an increasingly hostile competitive landscape. In addition, there were complex, internal challenges that included enormous pressure to increase the pace of profitable initiatives while coping with organizational loss, frequent management changes, and the disruption of traditional ways. This was an organization that had been in a constant state of transition for more than half of its fifty year existence.

The main difference between this culture change and classical approaches to organizational development, was the type of intervention used. The organization engaged in the Sea Change Design Process to understand the gap between its desired future and the one that existing inertia was heading it towards. Based on a deeper awareness of its history and current state, the critical actions needed for a course correction became apparent. The resulting culture change reached from the research labs to the store shelves to the spiritual depths of the organization.

Along the journey, the people in the organization learned many powerful lessons, individually and collectively, as they discovered their common commitment. It became very clear, very early in the process, that it would take more than breakthrough technology and consumer savvy to continue to build on the formidable brand legacies. It would take reconnecting the insatiable curiosity of the scientists, researchers, management, and staff with, surprisingly enough, what they loved to do best: innovation.

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