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Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

Fifteen years ago, I was a partner in a consulting firm that focused on helping large companies improve their marketing effectiveness. Funny thing was, everyone could and did learn the marketing best practices, but few changed the way they worked, even after they learned there was a better way.

We decided to research why organizations would continue to use bad habits instead of changing their behavior and adopt best practices. Long story short, the answer is organizational culture.

Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs, way of doing things and principles of organizational members. It is a result of such factors as history, technology, strategy, type of employees, and management style. Culture includes an organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location and beliefs.

We found that culture is more powerful than best practice marketing skills.


And, it is normally invisible to its members, tacitly accepted, unbelievably powerful and stubbornly resistant to change. Organizational culture is a significant driver of business performance.

When we learned this lesson, we change our consulting practice to help clients understand and improve their organizational culture. My specific expertise is in how teams work within an organizational culture and helping them to improve performance.

September 28, 2017, Newton, MA: Sean Gallagher speaks during a CEO's Club of Boston meeting at Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Massachusetts Thursday, September 28, 2017. (Photo by Billie Weiss)

Sean Gallagher speaks during a CEO’s Club of Boston meeting at Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Massachusetts

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?

Hmmm, besides the obvious ones of world peace, a new administration in Washington, and changing the constitution so Obama could serve eight more years? My three are more time with my family and friends, a second home in Melbourne, Australia and the discipline to write a book.

Tell us about the community you serve/problems you solve

In virtually all organizations, value creation is done in teams. And that’s also where value is destroyed. It doesn’t matter if the organization is for-profit or not-for-profit. Yet, few people have learned how to design, manage, and improve teams. They assume they are designing and organizing teams effectively. It’s just the way things are done in the organization. It’s part of the culture. Nobody questions the validity of how they organize and operate teams. It’s a cultural artifact.

That’s what I work on. I coach teams using the best research on what drives team success. Everything I do with clients is based on empirical evidence from peer reviewed and published research and is designed to change the cultural assumptions the organization holds about teams.

If you could give yourself three pieces of advice when you started your business, what would you say?
  1. Find a social media marketing expert sooner to help guide content development and distribution.
  2. It always takes longer than expected, so plan accordingly
  3. Constantly seek feedback from people smarter than you on your ideas and refine your them as needed

How has the Hub impacted your business? What energizes you at the Hub?

Building a business or social impact enterprise isn’t easy. Not only do you face the challenges of designing your service, generating revenue and just day-to-day operations, but there is the mental challenge of staying focused, optimistic and energized. Impact Hub Boston surrounds me with bright, energetic, and fun people who constantly offer encouragement and a kind word. Interacting with Impact Hub members stimulates my thought processes and creativity and inspire me to make a difference in the world.

When I think about Impact Hub, I think about When Ideas Have Sex. Let me be clear, I don’t mean that literally! I am referring to a wonderful TED Talk by Matt Ridely titled When Ideas Have Sex. In his talk, Ridely reviews the history and importance of the interchange of ideas. Here at Impact Hub Boston, I benefit from the interchange of ideas with the bright, enthusiastic, and generous members who surround me.

Sean will be hosting our Tools for Impact: The Science of Team Success on October 17, 2017 at 5:30pm

Images by Billie Weiss