Episode 59: Driving Meaningful Organizational Change with Chris Cancialosi and gothamCulture

Who is Chris Cancialosi and the key takeaways in this episode?

Chris Cancialosi is an expert in the field of organizational change and has helped so many companies to elevate their culture to a whole new level by analyzing the obstacles getting in the way of company success.

Listen to this highly informative interview and and learn:

  • What Chris considers company culture to be
  • Chris’ pointers for new entrepreneurs just starting out in business
  • What Chris thinks was the monumental shift in the development of his company
  • And much, much more

The Questions

Was there a monumental shift, a tipping point, where you said “We’ve got it. We’re on the right track”?

Answer:I have to say that there have been a lot of monumental moments in the last ten years. I think two come to mind. One was about four years ago when we made the decision to grow from a two-person organization, a self employment situation, where myself and my partner did everything, to actually expanding our team. That was a huge milestone because it gave us the ability to scale and to bring in more skill sets, so we were able to handle much larger scale engagements to drive change with our clients at a much more rapid pace than we otherwise might have been able to. The second one was that we merged with two other smaller firms in the beginning of 2014 and that was another critical moment for us because what it did is it expanded our ability in terms of our core service area, where prior to that we really specialized in organizational culture and leadership. We did not have the core competence in the strategy area to really be able to build that out organically. Through our mergers we were able to bring that third piece of the puzzle and align our services around those three core areas very quickly.

I want to ask how you match your office environment to your culture, and how do you use that to attract people to join your organization and retain the people you have?

Answer: We’ve got an office in Manhattan and of course we’re limited in some capacity just because of the price part of Manhattan, but what we do there is a hoteling concept. That supports our underlying belief and assumption that our best work happens on site with our clients. We don’t need a whole lot of office space for everybody to sit and have an office when they should be out in the world interacting with our clients. Conversely, in Seattle we have a much more open office where everybody typically kind of sticks to desks and again it’s based on their job function. In Seattle most of the team are support staff, marketing, finance et cetera. They’re coming to the office a lot more, so the way it’s set up is quite a bit different but the roles are very very different than the folks in New York. Then, of course, we have staff members that are independent of that and who work from home, and they can set things up the way they want. The point of all this is to say my underlying belief and assumption in my company is that we hire the best and brightest, and we hire professionals. So I don’t need to see butts in seats everyday to know that they are being productive.

Can you give my listeners a bit of advice, a tip, as they’re building their companies and starting to hire, trying to build a great culture? If you could share with them, “Hey guys, as you go down this path and you have this journey focus on this one thing first and foremost, and a lot of things will fall in line for you,” is there something you would say there’s that thing so to speak?

Answer:It reminds me of a saying. It’s culture by design rather than culture by default. Any organization as it grows and they learn the lessons of how to survive and grow are going to develop a certain way of doing things, so as a business leader and entrepreneur starts leading a growing company the question is: “Do you want culture by design that you’ve intentionally designed and been explicit about and are going to align your systems and processes to, or are you happy with whatever you get?” My number one tip for folks in that position is to really take the time before you even get into some of the more transactional aspects of your business to really sit down and be intentional about what you stand for, you as an individual and thereby you as a company. What do you stand for? What do you believe in? How are you going to align your systems and processes as you grow?

Culture According to Chris Cancialosi:

It’s the way things are done around here. It’s that underlying set of beliefs and assumptions that we hold to be true about the right way to do work. “The way we do things around here” is a really quick and easy to grab on to definition, but I acknowledge that the true definition goes way deeper than that.

Go To Quote for Inspiration

Book Recommendations:

  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What Chris Cancialosi Wants His Company to BE:

  • BE Relentless
  • BE Honest
  • BE Yourself

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Chris Cancialosi:

Connect with John on