Episode 15 – Kevin Oakes on What it Really Takes to Renovate Workplace Culture

The foundation of the work I do is geared towards improving workplace culture. So I enjoyed this conversation with Kevin Oakes, the head of the world’s leading HR research firm, the Institute for Corporate Productivity. There’s such alignment in our work. We discuss key aspects of his new book, Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company. I love how Kevin describes approaching culture change as a renovation (like a home remodeling project) rather than a full transformation (i.e., leveling the house and starting over). There are tangible items in our conversation that anyone can use to lead and influence change to create a more effective, human workplace culture.

Guest Info

Kevin Oakes, Ph.D., CEO & Co-founder - i4cp

As CEO and co-founder of the world’s leading HR research firm, i4cp (the Institute for Corporate Productivity, Kevin provides strategic direction and vision, and is responsible for the overall operations of the organization. Kevin is a frequent author and international keynote speaker on next practices in human capital and works with business and HR executives on people practices that drive high performance.

Kevin is the author of Culture Renovation™, published in January, 2021. The book acts as a blueprint for senior leaders to positively change organizational culture and details 18 action steps which companies such as Microsoft, 3M and T-Mobile have followed to successfully renovate their cultures.

Kevin is currently on the board of Performitiv, a performance improvement technology company. Kevin is also on the advisory boards of EdCast, a knowledge network firm and Sanctuary, a health and wellness startup. Kevin was previously on the board of directors of KnowledgeAdvisors, a provider of human capital analytics software, which was purchased by Corporate Executive Board in March of 2014. Kevin was also the Chairman of Jambok, a social learning start-up company which was founded at Sun Microsystems and was purchased by SuccessFactors in March 2011. He also served on the boards of Workforce Insight and Koru prior to their sales.

Kevin is on the board of Best Buddies Washington and helped establish the first office for Best Buddies in the state in 2019. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Kevin was previously the Founder and the President of SumTotal Systems (NASDAQ: SUMT) which he helped create in 2003 by merging Click2learn (NASDAQ: CLKS) with Docent (NASDAQ: DCNT). The merger won Frost & Sullivan's Competitive Strategy Award in 2004.

Prior to the formation of SumTotal, Kevin was the Chairman & CEO of Click2learn, which was founded in 1985 by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Prior to joining Click2learn, Kevin was president and founder of Oakes Interactive in Needham, MA. Oakes Interactive was purchased by Click2learn (then called Asymetrix) in 1997, which Kevin helped take public a year later.


 Show Notes

Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company by Kevin Oakes

This book identifies 18 proven leadership actions for turning any culture into an agile, resilient, and innovative high-performance organization. Learn how to best understand the culture in place today and set a new cultural path for decades to come; develop a co-creation mindset; identify influencers and blockers; ferret out skeptics and non-believers; measure, monitor, and report progress; and implement “next practices” in talent strategies to sustain the renovation.

Culture Renovation - this website has all things related to Kevin’s book and tools for renovating your workplace culture.

Institute for Corporate Productivity - this is Kevin’s company where you can access some of their groundbreaking research as it relates to HR, talent and culture.

Behind the Scenes

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