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Culture change: Three essential phases

Anthony O’Reilly ( is a founder of O’Reilly Advisors LLC in Newton, Massachusetts, USA, helping organizations accelerate transformational change using the discipline of controls. The author was the first Chief Ethics Officer at State Street Corporation, a Global Bank. Previously, he served as Head of Professional Practices at Siemens, AG, and prior to this, as a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The first article in this series examined how to get started on a culture transformation and shared some pitfalls to avoid.[1] In this piece, we explore three important steps in any transformation journey. I am struck by how each of three separate transformation initiatives I was part of followed the same pattern despite taking place in radically different circumstances. One came about as the result of a business combination between two consulting giants. The second was in response to a dramatic reputational failure. The third came from a CEO who wanted to nudge the culture in a new direction. The game-changing transaction, the burning reputational platform, and the internal desire for change followed similar paths. Compliance teams can use this to monitor and test progress and report to the board.

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