Pearl: summary of the culture concept
Pearl is the KBC best practice based on the following two ideas:
1 The transformation of the company culture and values towards a culture of Performance,
Empowerment, Accountability, Responsiveness and Local Embeddedness (PEARL)
2 Our company culture transformation is not imposed top-down, but realised by the employees
themselves through viral change. Storytelling and appreciative inquiry are main ingredients.
Designed as an integrated program, often multi disciplinairy and running over a certain period
of time alowing transformation to happen
P E A R L
P E A R L
PERFORMANCE EMPOWERMENT ACCOUNTABILITY RESPONSIVENESS LOCAL EMBED.
- Martens Valerie -
Corporate Culture and Change Officer at KBC Bank & Insurance
Pearl: 5 key ideas to implement
Decisions taken at the lowest level possible (accountability) and transparency by a new corporate
Management Committees merely decide upon strategic priorities.
All tactical decisions are now taken in a Business Development Committee
Operational decisions are taken at an even lower level
=> DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP
1. FASTER DECISSION PROCESS
Only 4 employees are fully dedicated to the implementation of the cultural transformation, but
all employees were invited to support this change in one way or another. There are two main
groups of employees for this: Pearl early adopters, ambassadors,..
Due to this approach of viral change, traditional ways of working (project management, steering
committees, formal meetings, SLA, …) are replaced by new and more dynamic ways of
collaboration, based on enthusiasm, creativity and entrepreneurship.
2. CULTURE CHANGE REALIZED BY EMPLOYEES
Pearl: 5 key ideas to implement
Reinventing some of the core management practices that are real barriers when it comes to an
engaged, accountable, responsive culture:
A new leadership model of authentic leadership
1. Lead yourself: this is about vulnerability, resilience, consistency, authenticity and flexibility,
passion and loyalty and self-development
2. Lead your people contains behaviour such as honest feedback, empowerment, valuing team,
empathy, inspire and motivate, facilitate and focus on talents
3. Lead your business focuses on the 'harder' aspects, such as vision, targets, continuous
improvement and customers.
From Competency centric => Mind-set & Behaviour
Emphasis on coaching and empowering employees, honest feedback, talent management,
continuous improvement, role-modelling and performance management. Interactivity and cross-
functional solidarity are also stressed in the new model.
The competence model will be adapted to the needs of the new culture. Whereas in the past a
lot of from knowledge (diploma) and analytical competences =>competences such as initiative-
taking, innovation and vision.
Measurement of the leadership behaviour by 360° feedback
Support for managers: intervision, workshops, peer coaching, etc
3. MANAGEMENT INNOVATION ARROUND CORE PEOPLE & LEADERSHIP PRACTICES
Pearl: 5 key ideas to implement
Viral change, storytelling and appreciative inquiry are main components of PEARL. To realize this,
a lot of emphasis is to be put on communication: KBC connect, communities, inspiration
moments: 8 Pearls (behaviour anchors), mood-rooms, mood-board competition,
A lot of focus is being put on innovation, preferably in co-creation with the customer.
Crowdsourcing is also often used as a way to collect and improve ideas.
Initiatives to support Innovation:
crowdsourcing, innovation competition, pitch stops,
Innovation community: a community of employees volunteering to embed idea-generation
and innovation in our company, bringing together the people that are actively involved in a
process, immature as it is, creates an amazing drive to improve and finalise it. No one needs
management to do better what they love to do.
Chasing rainbows: a group of employees volunteering to bring a vision on the future and a
fit role for KBC in that future.
Conclusion: good ideas are all over the company. Limiting out-of-the-box sessions and invention
of new products to designated teams or management, is a waste of talent and ingenuity.
Culture: East vs West
For Westerns to understand Asia, they have to know about Confusianism, taosim and budhism
In eastern culture people emphasise the whole and not the individual parts.
Confusianism is not a religion but a set of pragmaticrules for daily life derived from Chinese history
1. The stability of society is based on unequal status relationships between people.
2. The family is the prototype of all social organizations.
3. Virtuous behavior towards others consists of not treating others as one would not like to be
4. Virtue with regard to one’s tasks in life consists of trying to acquire skills and education, working
hard, not spending more than necessary, being patient and persevering
For Easterns to understand the West, they need to know that Western thinking is based on Greek
philosophy and science, Westerns see the individual parts and categorise things
CULTURE: EAST VERSUS WEST
Since we have not made an analysis the issues are hypothetical and bazed on the available
information in the key ideas and the leadership & culture issues we know from experience
KBC has a global footprint but is in origin a Belgian company and the majority of manpower is
based in Belgium so we can assume that this program is modeled to the Belgian Culture.
Country culture: Belgium vs Singapore
1. Uncertainty avoidance (UA):
The extent to which the members of a culture feel
threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and
have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid
these is reflected in the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.
2. Individualism (I): degree of interdependence a society
maintains among its members. It has to do with whether
people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are
supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people
belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
2. Power Distance (PD): the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and
organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
3. Indulgence (IU):the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on
the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong
control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.
1. On uncertainty avoidance Singapore and Belgium are each on the most opposite side of the
scale, which signifies a major difference in thinking and a complex one.
2. Belgium is high on both power disctance and individualism which is exceptional and again
shows a degree of complexity in how to do and understand things
3. High context vs low context: difference in communication styles
THE SCALE OF HOFSTEDE
Culture is the sum of all the shared, taken-for-granted assumptions that a group has learned
throughout its history.“ Therefor every organization is fundamentally different and we could say
has a different cultural DNA.
There are no good or bad cultures, cultures are functional or dysfunctional depending on who
we want to be. Organizational cultures are not always uniform across the organization, there can
be differences per business unit or across geographical entities, the later by influence of country
Basically there are 3 levels of culture:
1. Artefacts: visible organizational structures and processes,
easy to see but difficult to decipher.
What you see, hear and feel.
2. Espoused values: ideas, goals and philosophies
3. Basic underlying assumptions: unconscious, taken for granted beliefs,
perceptions, thoughts and feelings - the ultimate source of values and action
WHAT IS ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
DOES YOUR LOCAL CULTURE SUPPORT PEARL
Does you local organizational culture support the ground principles of pearl?
The PEARL accronym is based on western vaules. This does not mean it cannot be adopted in
Singapore but it does mean that there wil probalby be need for a culture transformation plan to
make sure it is accepted, understood, exectuable and fully internalized
Leadership: East vs West
Large powerdistance = hierarchy based on existential inequality =>paternalistic leadership “father”
Centralization of power
Large hierarchical levels
Subordinates expect to be told what to do
LEADERSHIP & ASIAN CULTURE
No leader without followers, therefor Power distance has to be based on the value system of the
follower. Followers see their superior in the same way than the superiors see their boss
Participative leadership could be an issue: subordinates accustomed to large powerdistance may
feel embarrased when the boss steps out of his role by asking their opinion
Management by Objectives might be difficult as it supposes negotiation across powerdistance
Empowerment goes against hierarchy and making mistakes is not accepted
Avoiding direct confrontation to safguard the relationship is key, this is not being unresponsive
1. To copy paste Western principles to Asia is not straightforward and needs adaptation
2. More emphasis on group and individual coaching will help to make progress
3. Best way is to find a way to blend between east and west where possible
4. The “recepten” are good but probably working through them in workshops and action learning
will make it easier to adopt and change behavior.
LEADERSHIP IN ASIA
Goal: develop distributed & authentic leadership on 3 levels: self, people, business
Who: 1 The leadership team
2 Key managerial positions
What: We believe that leadership development is a transformational process which takes place
over time and cannot be achieved by training alone as it involves appropriation of new
behavior. Therefor we have to create a multifunctional integrated development program.
How: The approach is modular consisting out of building blocks and will be tailored to your
concrete needs which we will understand better after assesment & analysis.
We use a combination of coaching, teaching, cases and workshops.
We consider 360° assessment & coaching to be a critical element to evoke transformation.
The coaching methodology we use is based on the systems-psychodynamic framework
which has a solid scientific foundation. It places issues into their context and delves into
the heart of the basic drivers of human behaviour to better understand individual
psychological structures and to identify and manage the hidden dynamics of teams and
organizations in order to create more effective organizations and better leaders.
1 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MODEL
2 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT BUILDINGBLOCKS
• To create a high performance team
• Obtain systemic insight in functionality or dysfunctionality of the team
• Create more trust, empathy and understanding
• Create a real team by more sense of unity
• To improve personal performance
• To work on gaps between own perception and other’s perception out of 360°
• Create more self awareness, awareness of impact of environment
• To have personal guidance on realizing your full potential in work and life
• Receive personalized exercises to help you grow
• To put participants in a concrete learning situation
• Solving real problems that involves taking action and reflecting upon the results.
• The learning that results helps improve the problem-solving process as well as the
solutions the team develops
• To transfer knowledge and best practice by introducing new concepts
• Taking the time to let people reflect and ask questions on how to use the idea’s
• Cases to make people apply the new learnings so that they absorb them better
• To create a starting point for the leadership development process
• To get better insight in the self and the other’s perception of you
• GELI 360°: 360° feedback on 12 leadership dimensions *info next page
• PERSONLITY AUDIT : 360° feedback on 7 personality dimensions* info next page
3 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENTS
• 360° feedback on 12 dimensions of leadership behavior
• Compare your self score with that of a group of observers (superiors, direct
reports, others) who respond to the questioner anonymously.
• 12 dimensions:
- Visioning - Outside stakeholder
- Empowering - Global mind-set
- Energising - Tenacity
- Design& align - Emotional intelligence
- Reward& feedback - Life balance
- Team building - Resilience to stress
• 360° feedback on 7 personality dimensions
• Compare your self score with that of a group of observers (family, friends,
others) who respond to the questioner anonymously.
• 7 dimensions:
High – Low self esteem
Trustfull - Vigilant
Conscientious – Laissez faire
Assertive – Self effacing
Extroverted – Introverted
High spirited – Low spirited
Adventurous - Prudent
4 BUILDING BLOCKS FOR KBC IN ASIA
SELF + +=
PEOPLE = Individual
= Group leadership
Based on the initial assumptions the underlying schematic presentation of potential modular
solution to help improve the performance on the 3 leadership themes.
More concrete plans and timelines can only be made when more info is available.
Changing Organisational culture is not easy and takes time and effort but it can be done by
creating a Cultural Transformation Program.
To be successful it is important that team members are actively involved in the development and
the roll out and that they can see changes in their day to day routines to indicate things are
really changing for them
To change culture we first have to know the culture we have and compare it to the culture we
want. To be effective we have to understand culture at the level of the basic underlying
assumptions and built from there.
Step 1: Assessment of the actual organisational culture
• Observation, Interviews, document analysis, etc
• Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument* see next page
Step 2: Decide on the desired culture
• Gap analysis
• Workshops to collect feedback and buy in
Step 3: Make a change and transition plan
• Project plan: workstreams, milestones, sponsoring, etc
• Communciation plan
• Change resilliance plan: Acceptance for change, barrier identification, employee
1 HOW TO TRANSFORM
The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) developed by Kim Cameron and Robert
Quinn is a validated research method to assess organizational culture.
Competing Values Framework which consists of four Competing Values that correspond with four
types of organizational culture. Every organization has its own mix of these values
The graph in nutshell
Left: the organization is internally focused: what is important for us, how do we want to work?
Right: the organization is externally focused: what is important for the outside world, the clients, market
Top: the organization desires flexibility and discretion
Bottom: the organization values stability and control
2 ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENT
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