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September 19, 2022

Innovation Adoption Workshop Series Asks, ‘Is Your Culture Ready for Change?’

By the Innovation Adoption Practice

In June 2022, the CoE Innovation Adoption (IA) practice published a Culture Pre-Assessment Guide and hosted a workshop series to highlight how elements of culture can help or hinder an agency’s IT modernization initiative and exposed participants to the tools that can be used to conduct a culture pre-assessment. Over 50 federal employees from nearly 20 different organizations were in attendance.

Graphic illustration of the Innovation Adoption Culture Pre-Assessment Workshop by Hannah Sanford

Understanding culture helps innovators understand and design solutions that suit the larger organizational landscape and helps change agents navigate that landscape as they implement those solutions.

Understanding how the culture of an organization impacts its readiness for change is fundamental to getting on the right track for successful technology innovation. Assessing change readiness is what the Innovation Adoption team’s C3 Framework is designed to facilitate – a three-pronged assessment of what might help or hinder a modernization effort that addresses an organization’s Culture, the Capabilities of its workforce, and Conditions that impact the work of that organization. This series focused on how organizations can get ready to assess organizational Culture.

Culture types

In the first workshop, participants identified their organization’s change position and type – open to change, skeptical or somewhere in between – and discussed the following:

  • Are people in my organization interacting and speaking to each other using the same language?
  • Is everyone comfortable and safe to voice their opinions and share their experiences?
  • What has their experience been with prior change?
  • What types of barriers or challenges make enterprise-wide technology implementation difficult?

Some attendees shared a common challenge – tying every job back to their organization’s values and mission. Others shared that silos in their organization pose the biggest challenges, and that it’s important to proactively break them down to drive modernization initiatives. These are examples of how different cultures might encounter different challenges in the change and modernization space.

Stakeholders and buy-in

Across every change initiative are stakeholders with varying levels of impact. The assumptions and beliefs we uncover with culture assessments are critical because it can be these views and predispositions played out through the words and actions of influential stakeholders that make or break the success of innovation projects.

The second workshop took attendees on an initial dive into culture discovery. We made suggestions on artifact collection and stakeholder identification – two key components to identify key resources, advocates, supporters and blockers – to help attendees visualize a path forward and practice using tools that will help set up modernization initiatives for success.

Participants were invited to office hours to continue the conversation and answer additional questions on how they might conduct a culture pre-assessment in their organization.


“Learning from other agencies and sharing possible solutions was exciting. The presentation had very useful information that I plan to research more and implement.”

“It was great to connect with other feds and learn about core approaches and tools for assessing culture.”

“I joined the Culture Pre-Assessment workshops to see what we can do at my organization to reinvigorate a past assessment and get a pulse check. The workshops provided valuable insights into incorporating data points, such as the FEVs survey, and a nice framework to meet our needs.”

June’s IA culture workshop series was inaugural. Feedback captured from participants will allow for improvements and additions to future workshops. Look out for a repeat of the series in Fall 2022. The guide and workshops are part of CoE’s new collection of Resources & Advisory Support or reach out directly to CoE at

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