Cultures are characterized by ‘how things are done around here’. Culture is sometimes adopted from the founder, sometimes developed consciously by teams who try to improve performance, and sometimes culture is formed in reaction to a lack of leadership or need for survival.
Culture emerges from collective:
- expectations, and
When organization culture is set, it is difficult to change. Reasons you need to change an organization culture might include:
- accelerated growth,
- strategic change,
- new market expansion,
- operation demands,
- new competition,
- expansion or new acquisition,
- a change in the workforce,
- leadership turnover, and
- change in the economy
Constant Change Forces Change
Conditions, like those listed above, constantly occur whether your organization is capable of change or not. Change is rarely linear or ordinal and can come at you all at once. Without an understanding of your organization culture, change becomes a strategy based on luck or hope, and neither luck nor hope are much of a strategy any leader can confidently expect success from.
Using a Competing Values Framework to analyze your current state allows you to identify organization strength and be aware of what to keep and focus on what needs adjustment or modification to excel or to survive. The Competing Values Framework involves 2 surveys to allow your organization, leadership, management, and teams to identify what works best and how people within your organization align or disconnect.
Competing values are important to understand effective performance. People are often recruited to manage within corporate value and demands; too often termed culture. But what happens as a company grows? Not all people can manage in the new environment demands. Many wish for the old days and refuse or can not change. An organization’s sustained success has:
- less to do with market forces than company values;
- less to do with competitive position than leadership ability to motivate;
- less to do with resource advantages than a compelling vision; and
- less to do with strategy than team delivery
Change Resilience or Change Resistance
Ever wonder why some people just seem so resistant to change? What is it about those people who never speak up, but you know never commit to change and somehow resist even the most well-planned efforts? What about these influencers and a hope that they buy-in does your strategy rely upon to get the majority of people on board. Why might they resist?
The output data from Competing Values surveys are plotted across 2 dimensions. The first dimension can be viewed in the quadrant graph below on the North/South axis and differentiates the North point Individuality and Flexibility, a culture that thrives on flexibility, discretion, and dynamism that moves into a cultural focus on stability, order, and control at the southern most point Stability and Control.
For example North to South:
Some organization are effective because they are changing, adaptable, and organic, whereas other organizations are effective because they are stable, predictable, and mechanistic.
These two dimensions from the North polar point of the graph, versatility and pliability to steadiness and durability at the south polar point.
The second dimension, along the West/East point differentiates a focus on an internal orientation, integration, and unity Internal Maintenance to a focus as it moves east of an external orientation, differentiation, and rivalry External Position.
For example West to East:
Some organizations are effective because they have harmonious internal characteristics, whereas others are effective because they focus on interacting or competing with others outside their boundaries.
This dimension ranges from cohesion and consonance on one end to separation and independence on the other.
The 2 dimensions form 4 quadrants, the 4 quadrants each represent a distinct set of culture qualities. These 4 quadrants represent what people value about an organization’s performance and what people define as good, right, and appropriate and found to accurately describe how people process information as well as their core values used for forming judgments and taking actions.
Competing Values Capital Risk
The Competing Values dimensions and quadrants also represent opposite and competing cultures:
Each continuum, North to South and West to East, highlights a core value opposite from the value on the other end of the continuum and are also contradictory on the diagonal opposite: Competing Values
This picture below highlights this more effectively after I added quality characteristics of each culture you can look at the top right quadrant in comparison to the lower left quadrant and the top left quadrant compared to the lower right quadrant. Change is hard and you are really flying blind if you don’t know where your organization is at, what they value, or the impact (positive or negative) that process, hierarchy, or flexibility really has on people.
With a Competing Values review you can identify the culture people are working in, then identify any disconnect, by team or business unit, and create strategies that align to the culture or need to challenge the culture.
Imagine a board of directors and the Founder (or CEO) take the Competing Values survey with the results plotted on the graph below:
Just from this visual output can see there is a disconnect. With this data and awareness you can begin with a level set of awareness needs to address before you start change. Now you have a better picture of what needs to start, what needs to stay the same, and what needs to stop. Conversely, without a Competing Values output, would the teams arrive at a more clear picture of disconnect?
Competing Capital Mix
Imagine a mix of individuals against a management team for each of the below examples. With a Competing Values analysis disconnect is identify more clearly and can be managed more effectively.
- Less to do with market forces than company values;
- Less to do with competitive position than leadership ability to motivate;
- Less to do with resource advantages than a compelling vision;
- Less to do with strategy than team delivery
Organizations rely on projects to accomplish strategy. An organization’s resistance to change is the bait that nimble, flexible, resilient, and hungry market forces and your competition feed on. Your customers today are your competition’s customers tomorrow.
Organizations that understand competing values and the impact of culture can train and manage and cultivate people who can grow with the organization and help those that don’t find a match for their style. Managing people out of an organization is always an easier conversation than managing them with overly-sensitive gloves or hanging on and hoping they will change – both at the cost of your competition.
Contact me for further discussions on how Competing Values using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) assessment can help solidify the best of what you, your team, or your organization do and plan successful change to keep you, your team, or your organization competitive.
Criteria Used by Venture Capitalists to Evaluate New Venture Proposals [select to download Adobe.pdf]; MacMillan, Ian; Siegel, Robin; Narasimha, P.N. Subba; Journal of Business Venturing, 1, 119-128 (1985); Elsevier Science Publishing Co., 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017;
Linking Prefunding Factors and High-Technology Venture Success: An Exploratory Study; Roure, Juan; Maidique, Modesto; Journal of Business Venturing 1, 295-306 (1986); Elsevier Science Publishing Co., 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017; and
For further detail see Competing values drive organization resistance