Creating Impact with Projects and Clients: Leveraging Organizational Culture

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Learn how to decode and leverage client organizational culture throughout the project journey to amplify the impact of your work.

Instructor: JOHN CURRAN, PHD
Enrollment: 20
Schedule: September 3–October 15, 2020 (5 live sessions, on-demand lectures, independent work & coaching—see Coursework and Schedule)
Registration: Membership is required to register—join us!

  • Regular price US$850: Choose this price if the fee will be paid or reimbursed in whole or in part by your organization
  • Self-pay price US$650: Choose this price if the fee will not be paid or reimbursed in whole or in part by your organization

Terms & FAQ

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To deliver real value to clients and solve their business challenges, we need to go beyond tactics like setting clear goals, establishing accountability, and targeting ROI. We need to understand the culture of client organisations—dynamics that can catalyze or sabotage a project.

This course will empower you to decode and work with client cultures throughout projects and longer-term client relationships. You’ll start the course with a solid grounding in organizational culture that goes far deeper than the oversimplified models often advanced in business and management consulting. Using theories from anthropology and psychology, you will learn to approach client relationships as an ethnographic space, detect the subtle performances at play, and map their specific influence on your work. Then, you’ll learn specific tools and strategies for key areas of the project journey, including meetings, cultural surveys, workshops, and other formal and informal interactions. Instructor John Curran will guide your cohort through learn-share-practice sequences that ensure you can apply concepts and techniques in your own work environment.

Whether you work for a global consultancy, a small team, or independently, the course will amplify the positive and long-lasting impact of your work.

In this course you will:

  • Learn about the primary models of client-agency relationships used today
  • Learn key theories from anthropology and social psychology to understand how culture frames behaviour in organisations, and how to map them onto clients and organizations you work with
  • Define the key areas of how cultural performances impact projects
  • Map and work through challenges you experience in your client relationship
  • Practice using tools and models that will help you decode the tensions and barriers in this relationship
  • Develop techniques for workshops and meetings that address challenges you face with clients, stage honest conversations, and  build trust

Who should take this course?

Anyone who has experience working with clients, managing client relationships, and facilitating client workshops will benefit from this course. It is appropriate whether you work for a small, medium, or large agency, or work independently; and for practitioners who focus on insights, design, strategy, or related services. Although the concepts and techniques are applicable to work with internal clients and stakeholders, the focus of the course is on relationships with external clients who are engaged on a project-by-project basis. The learn-share-practice model of instructions draws directly on your own work, so you should have some experience under your belt; the course is not intended for entry-level practitioners.


Required coursework includes live, online sessions as well as independent work to be completed between sessions on your own time. Assignments are designed to be flexible and feasible for working professionals, but the course does require your active engagement and commitment to all components:

  • 30 min one-to-one session with Dr John Curran
  • Independent work prior to each live session, completed on your own time:
    • Pre-recorded lecture, 20–30 min each
    • Read/watch/listen assignment, approx 20 min each (choose among instructor recommendations...or take in all of them!)
    • Hands-on exercise, 30–90 min each
  • Five 2-hour live, online sessions, with discussion/integration, exercises, and break-out work

Total commitment: approx 17 hours over 8 weeks


After a one-to-one kickoff meeting with the instructor, participants will complete independent assignments and participate in live, online sessions during September 3–October 15.

The following live sessions take place on Thursdays, 8–10am San Francisco (UTC-7) / 12–2:00pm São Paulo (UTC-3) / 4–6:00pm London (UTC+1) / 8:30–10:30pm New Delhi (UTC+5:30) convert time zone

Session 1, September 3: Key Challenges & Models for Client Relations

In this first session you'll learn key themes and models that shape current thinking about the client/agency relationship. You will begin to define and map key challenges that you experience in this relationship, and scope the root causes of these challenges.

Session 2, September 10: The Foundations of Organisational Culture

This session will explore the pivotal role of culture in defining professional relationships. Along with an overview of what organisational culture is, we will drill down into some of its key elements, such as ritual, performance, symbolism and conflict. You will get the chance to map the ways these elements influence your work with clients in a project setting and how to navigate them.

Session 3, September 24: Using Transactional Analysis & Reflective Spaces

This session builds on the core elements of organizational culture to understand the different types of personas that we encounter when working with clients. We will cover helpful models based on transactional analysis in order to decode the performances and behaviours at play. We will also explore reflective spaces and their importance for planning and project development.

Session 4, October 8: Using Liminality to Create Impact

This session will focus on using anthropological thinking around liminality to develop and design project client meetings and workshops that gets everyone on board. These techniques put the themes, models, and theories we've learned so far into practice. You'll learn strategies for pre-planning workshops and meetings to identify and address tensions and conflicts.

Session 5, October 15: Building Trust and Bringing It All Together

In this session you will learn techniques for challenging your client in a safe and productive way in order to generate trust and build strong relationships. We will bring concepts, models, and techniques covered in the course together in a holistic approach to client work. You will also establish concrete strategies for implementing the learnings from this course into their specific work environments.


headshot, John CurranJohn Curran specializes in making organizations highly productive and people-centric in order to achieve growth. He combines his expertise in anthropology, executive coaching, facilitation and service design to work with CEOs, senior leaders and their teams to develop dynamic and collaborative organizational cultures that connect their values with those of their customers. John holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and has formal training in executive coaching (EMCC EQA), facilitation, organizational consultancy, qualitative market research, and group psychoanalysis. He is a guest lecturer at Cass Business School in marketing, a Visiting Scholar at the Royal College of Art in design anthropology, a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and a TEDx speaker.

Terms & FAQ

Who can enroll in EPIC Courses?

All EPIC Learning events are open to EPIC Members, and membership is open to everyone. Become an EPIC Member to register!

What are your cancellation and transfer policies?

If you need to cancel more than 14 days before the start of the course you’ll be refunded 50% of the registration fee. No refunds will be made within 14 days of the start of the course. You may transfer your registration to someone else; the recipient must be an EPIC Member prior to transfer. To request a transfer contact

What is an Open Badge?

The badge you’ll receive when you complete an EPIC Course is a verifiable record of the skills and expertise you’ve gained. Our badges are based on the Open Badges accreditation system: “Each Open Badge is associated with an image and information about the badge, its recipient, the issuer, and any supporting evidence. All this information may be packaged within a badge image file that can be displayed via online CVs and social networks.”

Can teams enroll together?

Yes, EPIC courses are an excellent experience for teams. If there isn't sufficient space left in a session for your whole team, or if you’re interested in a customized course or training, contact us.

If we didn’t answer your question, please please get in touch.