Can the Barclays’ brand change cultural values by changing structures?

Barclays logoBarclays’ new CEO Antony Jenkins, is undertaking an admirable strategic overhaul of the way the brand does business and hopefully in its longterm public perception.

He talks about changing culture and practices – practices are fairly straightforward, pragmatic things to change. Little wonder that systems-based organisations begin there. You can plan, implement, monitor and measure. To what extent changes to practices affect culture is far more difficult to assess. Tackling corporate and brand cultures head-on is far more difficult.

Cultural changes do not necessarily follow changes in practice – where practices are pragmatic, cultures are emotional.

A few years ago I worked on a project for a major high street bank (not a brand job), and the management proudly explained the measures they had put in place to become a ‘real customer-focused organisation.’ However, when talking to staff it did not need in-depth discourse analysis to show that the new systems had not had a major impact upon culture. New customers were described in bulk as ‘feed stock’, and when asked to explain their jobs, many people would begin with: ‘Suppose Mrs Miggins needs a… ‘

I wish Anthony Jenkins well. Full marks for recognising the seriousness of the issue. I shall watch with interest however the way the organisation deals with the emotional dimensions of cultural values and the measures put in place to assess them.

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