The Results Pyramid

The Results Pyramid

Video Overview

Tom Smith, Co-Founder, Bestselling Author of Change The Culture, Change The Game, introduces The Results Pyramid. The Results Pyramid presents how the three essential components of organizational culture work in harmony with each other to achieve results.

At the heart of The New York Times Bestselling book on accelerating culture change through accountability, Change the Culture, Change the Game, is The Results Pyramid® —the classic model that organizations throughout the world have used to create a culture of greater employee ownership and engagement for achieving Key Organizational Results.

The Results Pyramid is an easy-to-remember and ready-to-use model that explains how to make culture change happen effectively, accurately, and efficiently in an organization or team. While many change initiatives focus on what people need to do differently, The Results Pyramid helps leaders add emphasis on how people need to think differently. Once leaders learn how to shape beliefs by providing new experiences, they find that their efforts make a much stronger and longer lasting impact on their company’s culture. With Partners In Leadership Culture Of Accountability Process, leaders learn how to tap the powerful technology around creating experiences—experiences that truly make a difference.



As we help organizations, large and small, change their culture, we commonly hear two questions:

  1. How do you change the culture in a way that will get organizational results?
  2. How do you do it quickly enough to enhance the bottom line?

The answers lie in the application of The Results Pyramid and its associated methodologies and tools, which enable organizations of any size and any type to implement and integrate the culture change, needed to create competitive advantage. Here is our basic premise to the work we do with organizational culture:

  • Leaders must create the needed culture.
  • The culture produces the results.
  • The most effective culture is a Culture of Accountability.
  • The Results Pyramid will accelerate the transition to a Culture of Accountability and create competitive advantage.

Simply defined, a Culture Of Accountability is a workplace culture where people think and act in the manner necessary to achieve the desired organizational results.

We have not encountered a single situation in which these basic ideas do not hold true. We firmly believe that leaders and managers who understand and accept them will much more easily and quickly develop the leadership competency of managing culture. Leaders must manage culture. Culture does produce results. A Culture Of Accountability is the most effective culture. And companies that create such a culture get the results they want and need to have.

The Results Pyramid presents how the three essential components of organizational culture experiences, beliefs, and action work in harmony with each other to achieve results. Experiences foster beliefs; beliefs influence actions; and actions produce results. The experiences, beliefs, and actions of the people in your organization constitute your culture, and as The Results Pyramid demonstrates, your culture produces your results.

The Results Pyramid presents how the three essential components of organizational culture experiences, beliefs, and action work in harmony with each other to achieve results. Experiences foster beliefs; beliefs influence actions; and actions produce results. The experiences, beliefs, and actions of the people in your organization constitute your culture, and as The Results Pyramid demonstrates, your culture produces your results.


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Your organization’s culture determines your results, and the results you want should largely determine the kind of culture you need. Culture depends on results; results depend on culture. Leaders can build a company culture around any set of desired results: market dominance, sales growth, technological excellence, ease of customer interaction, best-in-class quality, or stable earnings, just to name a few. Once you clearly define the targets, then you must move quickly to build a culture that produces the right experiences, beliefs, and actions that will produce those results.


Any organization that is serious about accelerating culture change can gain similar benefits by gaining alignment around the key R2 results. Because the key R2 results drive the activity, energy, and effort of the company, you cannot assume alignment around those results; you must purposely create and then consciously maintain it throughout the organization.

To accelerate culture change, everyone in the organization needs to focus on achieving R2. Culture changes one person at a time, and that process begins with getting each and every person in the culture aligned with R2. Only when everyone understands a clearly communicated R2 can they align the way they need to think (B2) and act (A2) to produce the desired result. A lack of this alignment makes everything harder, as shown in the diagram below. Implementations don’t go as smoothly, cross-functional teams don’t get along as well, communication seems less effective, and desired results become harder and harder to produce.

Conversely, the culture becomes aligned when people’s actions, beliefs, and experiences align with R2.

This diagram suggests that a more powerfully aligned culture will more effectively, efficiently, and consistently focus on results. The more consistently people focus on results; the more likely they are to create the C2 culture that will produce those results.

Effective leaders manage in ways that get a culture aligned with R2, and then they keep it aligned. They say and do things to create experiences that generate or reinforce beliefs that motivate actions that produce the results. By the same token, they avoid saying and doing things that put the culture out of alignment. Managing a culture is a process, not an event; it never ends, even after you have successfully integrated R2 throughout the entire organization.


Understanding what needs to shift in the actions people take is an important first step toward accelerating culture change. Creating a clear picture of what your desired culture should look like in terms of what people need to do differently is key to accelerating change. Once you determine the shifts in behavior that are needed, you can begin to identify the beliefs you need people to hold that will foster those beliefs.

The single most important change in actions that needs to occur during a time of cultural transition is the shift to greater accountability. In our book, The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, we make the case that corporations today suffer from a crisis of accountability. To address the crisis, leaders and managers too often fall back on the power of their positions and the authority of their assignments, expecting accountability from others rather than engaging it.

In today’s environment, business moves so rapidly and information comes so quickly that you need responsive systems that propel people to become invested, proactive, resourceful, accurate, quick, and creative. Accountability is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to optimizing organizational performance. Getting employees to invest fully in achieving results is critical to accelerating a shift in culture. Yes, you can change your culture quickly, but you cannot accelerate the speed of cultural change until you get people to abandon the external focus implied by such questions as “What else can you do?” and “Who else can I blame?” Speeding up the cultural change means getting everyone to internalize the need for change and ask, “What else can I do to demonstrate actions more consistent with A2?” and “What else can I do to achieve R2 results?”

Helping employees fully engage with a keen sense of investment and ownership is critical to accelerating the culture shift. Bear in mind that culture changes one person at a time. When people throughout the organization begin to own and feel accountable for the change they personally need to make, real change begins to occur—fast!

Here’s an example of how our clients usually describe the actual shift in accountability from A1 to A2:

A Category 2 belief, steeped in experience, is strongly held, fully embraced, and not easily abandoned. For instance, when people in an organization believe, “You can’t say what you really think to management because they don’t want to hear it,” that is probably a category-two belief. This belief, developed over time, reflects a strong opinion based upon powerful personal experiences. You cannot easily shift this category of belief because people see it as an accurate description of the truth and a strong guide to how they should behave.

A Category 3 belief resides at the very foundation of a person’s values concerning moral, ethical, principled, right and wrong behavior. People hold such beliefs so deeply that they will abandon them only under extreme pressure and often not even then. For example, imagine someone believing strongly that intentionally falsifying information on a production report would be unethical, immoral, and against the law. That bedrock belief will not likely change unless a person faces a life-or-death threat. Even under duress, however, a Category 3 belief may defeat all efforts to alter it.

When we talk about shifting beliefs to change the culture, we are usually talking about working with Category 1 and Category 2 beliefs that reflect “How we do things around here.” While Category 1 beliefs can shift fairly easily, particularly when people are presented with better information, shifting a Category 2 belief requires greater skill and thought, particularly if you need to do it quickly. Changing Category 3 beliefs usually involves a higher degree of emotion and pain.

We see this whenever a particular shift involves a modification of the “Social contract” between employees and employers. Such shifts may include reducing the workforce, changing the working hours, altering the rate of pay, or requiring retraining in new skills. Certain employees feel that such changes violate the rights to which they feel entitled. Leaders must appreciate how deeply and strongly people may hold a certain belief because it will dictate how much effort, energy, and attention it will take to shift.


During times of change, managers and leaders often focus their efforts exclusively on the top two levels of The Results Pyramid. Our clients quickly learn, however, that they can greatly enhance their success at accelerating a change in culture when they expand their focus to work with the seemingly less tangible beliefs level on the bottom half of the pyramid. There is a simple yet powerful relationship between the beliefs people within the organization hold and the actions they take. Their beliefs about how work should get done directly affect what they do. If you change people’s beliefs about how they should do their daily work and help them adopt the new beliefs you need them to hold, you will produce the actions you need them to take. When leaders work with this deeper, more lasting aspect of behavior, they tap into the most fundamental accelerator of effective culture change.

NOT ALL BELIEFS ARE EQUAL Not all beliefs are equal in terms of strength and conviction. With this in mind, our methodology for accelerating culture change emphasizes that we do not focus on changing every kind of belief. As shown in the diagram below, there are real differences in the kind of beliefs we hold.

A Category 1 belief does not reflect a high degree of belief bias and does not influence people’s actions in a dramatic way. When presented with new information, people fairly easily abandon this kind of belief. For instance, a sales representative may feel that the most effective presentation to a customer involves using the old marketing materials she knows by heart. A phone call with her supervisor, however, may convince her that the new marketing pieces will improve her ability to motivate the customer to make a buying decision. As a result, the rep quickly abandons the belief that the old materials work best and adopts the belief that the new materials will be more effective in helping her achieve her sales number.


The experiences that form the foundation of The Results Pyramid drive accelerated culture change. Whether you realize it or not, you provide experiences for everyone around you every day. Each interaction you have with others in the organization creates an experience that either fosters or undermines the beliefs you need them to have. Quite simply, the experiences you provide create the beliefs people hold. Helping thousands of clients successfully accelerate culture change over the last two decades has convinced us that leaders must become highly proficient at creating the right experiences that foster desired cultural beliefs. Those who gain this proficiency will more likely achieve their desired results as they accelerate the needed shift in culture and develop a Culture Of Accountability. We feel confident that when you focus on the foundation of The Results Pyramid and provide the right experiences, people will change the way they think. If you change the way they think, then you can change the culture; and when you change the culture, you change the game.


Leaders who do not understand the importance of interpreting the experiences they create seldom see desired B2 beliefs adopted by people in their organizations. Therefore, you should always expect that most of the experiences you create will require careful interpretation. In other words, the bias toward holding on to B1 beliefs will persist with full force and defeat your efforts to get people to see things anew. Because everyone views the same experience with a different set of eyes, very few experiences will “Stand on their own two feet.” You need to prop them up with the right interpretation. Otherwise, you cannot expect people to understand precisely what you intended. Not all the experiences you create are equal. From our observation, the experiences leaders provide in an attempt to create B2 beliefs fall into one of four experience types.

We have built this model after observing many leaders who have both successfully and unsuccessfully attempted to provide E2 experiences they hoped would create B2 beliefs. Understanding the type of experience you are providing will help you calibrate the degree of interpretation required and decide whether you need to rethink the type of experiences you are providing in your effort to create B2 beliefs.


“The kind of accountability that produces true alignment and real trust can be the determining factor in winning or losing for any organization. Partners In Leadership offers a practical and powerful solution that is a positive and principled guide to holding people in any organization accountable to achieve its key results.”

Perry Lowe, President & CEO, AXIS Dental Corporation

“In this new competitive world where resources are thinning and expectations expanding, consistently delivering results that hit the mark is not only challenging, it’s critical. Partners In Leadership has masterfully integrated relevant, factual stories with sound insights that leave lasting imprints of practical advice. The truths conveyed provide a platform on which a Culture of Accountability is not only built but also sustained.”

David J. Wunderli, President, OGIO International Inc.

“Partners In Leadership presents practical, useful, and easy to apply techniques for holding others accountable. They give you a thoughtful and straightforward approach to this complex subject of developing a Culture of Accountability. Working with this process has improved our communication and teamwork and helped us achieve important results for our leaders, managers, employees, and, most importantly, our patients. Their tools have even made the journey fun!”

Craig L. Hendrickson, President & CEO, Overlake Hospital Medical Center

“Our employees have become much more engaged in our activities, before perhaps, waiting to be told what to do now they understand not only what to do but are looking for ways to take our efforts to the next level – we find very often now associates asking “What else can I do?” to accomplish our key results.”

John Gardynik, President & CEO, RX America

“We are very pleased with the results so far and we will continue to move our culture here at Rubio’s towards one of accountability, building on the good work your team at Partners In Leadership has done”

Ralph Rubio, Chairman/CEO, Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc.

“I would certainly recommend Partners In Leadership to any company who is looking to change their internal culture to find better methods for achieving key business results. We are grateful for their work and the dynamic energizing learning they have brought to our leadership team and our entire staff. They are just what the doctor ordered for the world of fast paced change and shrinking resources in which we must thrive.” “

Harvey M. Yorke, President & CEO, Southwestern Vermont Health Care