Living Culture: A Values-Driven Approach to Revitalising Your Company Culture by Jan Thornbury, published by Random House (ISBN 0-7126-6959-0)

A self-help guide for corporations, this book advises how to identify your firm's culture and “revitalise it” to maximise success.

Jan Thornbury is a business consultant who assisted KPMG in their “culture change” process. Stephen Butler, KPMG's international chairman, explains the firm's objective in his preface: “…to become the leading multidisciplinary firm in the world…”. Notes, written by Colin Sharman, former KPMG international chairman, are printed in boxes dotted throughout the text.

An insight into KPMG's culture change process is set out in the “Diary of the KPMG Process”, Chapter 3. The “Hustler's Guide to getting on in KPMG” was collated during research into behavioural patterns at KPMG. This is a fascinating read and sets out the firm's old rules on how to get on. Winners in the “must do” category include “blow your own trumpet”, “put the firm first – 'Your first wife is KPMG'”, and “be able to bullshit”. Lawyers might be interested to note that the guide cautions against getting into litigation, publicising mistakes and asking about pay.

The book sets out how to identify a corporate culture, what needs changing and how to implement and get staff to buy into the new values. Whether the book is an essential tool to overhauling corporate culture strategies is doubtful. It is, however, a useful insight into KPMG's own management vision. McDonald's is cited by Lord Sharman as being a successful global business: “All we knew was that we wanted to be as effective as McDonald's in globalising the business – although obviously we didn't want to become the McDonald's, per se, of professional services companies.”

There are also lessons for the person in charge of implementing the organisational changes, or “change agent”: “Maybe there are lessons which change agents can learn from James Bond. 007 always had something clever up his sleeve to get him out of sticky situations. He always had a quirky secret weapon, which enabled him to outfox legions of baddies who had to make do with the usual run-of-the-mill heavy artillery. At KPMG we too needed a secret weapon: something unexpected which would effectively inject energy into the implementation phase of the culture-change process.” Perseverance reveals that the secret weapon in question was getting KPMG employees to play a variation of Monopoly.

Top management secrets are also traded. KPMG's International Council is described in the book as

“a combination of supervisory board, Supreme Court and that ruling body of wise elders that you get in Star Trek films”. Enough said.