All organizations are trying to be as successful as possible, whether that means making a profit, growing in size, advocating for change or creating communities. Understanding what makes great culture, teams and employees is a big part of that success. That’s why we have HR, People Analytics teams, value/culture committees, pulse surveys and 360 assessments – they help the organization understand its culture, values and people so they can make changes that will help them accomplish their goals. What role do new data analytics platforms like Cultivate play in helping organizations create positive change?

Platforms like Cultivate are unique because they include both analysis and feedback mechanisms. As the technology gets better, we can create systems that track culture all the way through to its impact on business outcomes, and perform interventions to change those outcomes. This would complete the loop of helping organizations create positive change through culture. For our team at Cultivate, this process has four steps and not all of them are possible today – but we will get there.

Step 1: Understand and empower employees
This is something the Cultivate platform already does. We empower employees through AI-based coaching that helps them become better leaders. Our platform shows users patterns in their behaviors so they can understand habits, strengths and weaknesses in more detail. This is unique to Cultivate as the feedback is on observed behavior (how they communicate to their team), as opposed to traditional manager or self assessments.

Step 2: Understand company culture
We recently rolled out this capability with the Cultivate Culture Report. Once enough users at an organization are using Cultivate, that anonymized data can be used to map out that company’s culture based on their digital behaviors. This helps companies see how different business units compare to one another in terms of culture.). For example, perhaps one business unit has a “always on” culture with employees exchanging a lot of messages at all hours and a second unit has a more collaborative culture with more meetings, but fewer messages. Measuring and understanding these differences is the second step in the process.

In the future, we might be able to build baselines or averages for different types of organizations or verticals (do finance companies send more after-hours messages? Are nonprofits more collaborative?) so that specific companies can see how they measure up to the average.

Step 3: Pinpoint relationships between culture and business outcomes
Once companies have a solid understanding of their own culture, they can add other types of data to the pot to see how culture is related to business outcomes. For example, they could correlate sales figures, stock price, manager performance reviews or other KPIs with cultural factors to see which of those factors may be having positive or negative effects on those outcomes.

For example, if a company with several business units finds that the units with more information sharing also have higher employee retention, and the units with more after-hours messages also have higher turnover, they may conclude (based on the strength of the correlation) that those factors are affecting their turnover. This could help organizations diagnose issues with their business or better understand how a negative culture is affecting them. If your culture is costing you employees or affecting the bottom line, you want to act on it.

Step 4: Make changes to improve those outcomes
Now we’re looking into the future. But if a platform could tie business outcomes to culture, then it should also be able to make changes to improve those outcomes, as well as predict them. If the hypothetical business from the last example wants to reduce its turnover, the platform can run a simulation to understand what cultural factors need to improve, and by how much, in order to reach the business goal, for example lower turnover by 5%. That same platform can then start to nudge employees and deliver insights that aim to improve those behaviors.

I believe this could create a closed-loop system, where platforms like ours not only help organizations understand how to reach their goals, but can actually make the changes to get them there. Imagine the possibilities of a successful spiral that empowers employees and helps the organization to create positive change!

Joe Freed, CEO
Joe Freed, CEO

As Co-founder and CEO of Cultivate, Joe is focused on building leadership development and future-of-work technology for the digital workforce. In addition to leading Cultivate, Joe enjoys writing about workplace trends, teaching about startups and product management at UC Berkeley Extension, and occasionally running a marathon.