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Strengthening Institutional Culture and Ways of Working with University College London

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Organisational culture is comprised of commonly held values, beliefs and behaviours. Taking the time to collectively articulate and embed cultural expectations can support employee engagement and well-being which, in turn, can positively impact business outcomes. 


.The brief:

University College London (UCL) engaged Strive Higher to develop a means by which, at the department or divisional level, a timely assessment may be made of the cultural health of that area based on a set of defined indicators informed by evidenced-based metrics. In establishing these ‘tools and resources’, UCL hoped to create an ‘early warning system’ to identify and/ or prevent issues escalating into major problems. This, in turn, would provide assurance to the institution that leadership teams could take proactive steps to strengthen and improve the culture of the organisation, and that they were supported in doing so. 

Our approach:

We conducted a series of focus groups across two months with senior leaders at UCL. These led us to suggest a set of ‘lenses and domains’ to be used as the basic frame around which to build a diagnostic tool. The focus groups were followed with design workshops to elicit discussion on what the tool could look like and how it could be used. Finally, we supported the team in identifying what data & metrics supported the most effective use of the tool, including an understanding of the resources available to support managers with interventions.  

The resulting framework and diagnostic tool enabled UCL’s leadership teams to gauge the current governance, culture and ways of working across key domains, and to identify risks and issues at an early stage. This supports leadership teams to identify areas for attention and undertake specific activity to manage risk, as guided by the tool. 


The framework provides an effective means of engaging with teams and developing measurable improvement plans. Given the framework is based on a commonly agreed set of metrics, cross-institutional comparisons can be made, enabling success and achievements in one area to be shared and trialled in others. 


  • A framework to support managers to identify and address risks and issues at an early stage

  • An effective means of using evidence-based metrics to compare cultures across an organisation

  • Clear links to the most appropriate resources to support managers in making improvements  

Read more about our Values & Culture service offering.


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