Assessing Organizational Culture

Lots of change programs within organizations and teams simply go under. There’s an expression that goes: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. And you could concur on altering your strategy or your customer service, but if this change does not align with the current organizational culture, you will not be successful…

Organizational culture defines what you appreciate, the way you view things, your ideas and opinions about work and so on and thus: your behavior. Because culture influences behavior so avidly, it’s what makes the difference when it comes to results! The start of putting change into practice and enhancing performance commences in the brains of executives as well as people on the floor. It’s all about shared culture. The trick is to let it work for you instead of hinder change.

How could that be realized? Unless you have some reference you don’t know where you stand. The OCAI which stands for Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument, has proven to be a clear beginning for nearly any change process. This method is certified and developed by professors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn and is currently used by more than 10,000 organizations across the world.

Looking at the Competing Values Framework there are 4 culture types with competing values the OCAI distinguishes. Those are:

  • Hierarchy Culture, based on Controlling
  • Clan Culture, based on Cooperating
  • Adhocracy Culture, based on Creating
  • Market Culture, based on Competing

Participants assess 6 important characteristics of their organization’s culture when finishing the online survey. The result is a profile of the current culture, that is a combination of the 4 archetypes above.

Mostly one of the culture types is prevalent. For instance, some people have a dominant Clan Culture, sharing information and ideas, connecting and smiling.

People measure their preferred culture for the future, after the change has taken place. It’s very interesting and helpful to compare these two profiles. There could be a large gap between the current and preferred circumstances, suggesting that people are all set for solid change and that they’re currently feeling unsatisfied about their working climate.

Measuring organizational culture is the first step to thriving, sustainable change. It shows you where your team or organization is currently and where they want to go. It’s very instructive to discover numerous subgroups and find out where for instance executives and employees differ. That gives ideas on what to do next: what exactly do employees expect, how could executives make the change program better, how could you overcome resistance, and so on.

Specifying your results in a workshop takes you from the simple but clear-cut four-typology to customized solutions for your organization. Working with every member, you will be able to work out differences and truly get people to not only say YES to the change program but act like YES and really apply the new behaviors. That’s what you need to develop successful change.

If you want to know how to work with culture and the OCAI culture assessment to help your organization change successfully, check out the eBook “How to guide Positive Change with Culture and Positive Leadership”.

For more blog posts and applications of the OCAI, please check the official OCAI Blog or try the OCAI culture assessment online.


This entry was posted in OCAI, Organizational Culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Assessing Organizational Culture

  1. lukemcbain says:

    Thanks for the post. I have been researching the issue myself extensively, but am not sure if culture can be changed directly of culture change is something which completes the change process, through a key ritual for example:

    Would be interesting to read more research on this.



  2. Luke, good question indeed. Culture can be changed in many ways.

    Sometimes culture change is the outcome of another change process but it can also be influenced more directly and before implementing any other changes. Talking from my experience as a consultant, taking your team through the OCAI change process, step by step, is really a good way to start.

    If you implement the measures that people come up with and, above all, train your executives in the leadership style for the preferred culture type, you can achieve a lot.

    Regards, Marcella

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