Borg, Competing Values Framework, Toby Elwin, Star Trek

Competing values drive your organization out of business

competing values framework, human resources, culture
All are welcome, after assimilation

Cultures are characterized by ‘how things are done around here’. Sometimes adopted from the founder, sometimes a conscious teams development to improve performance, and sometimes culture forms in reaction to a lack of leadership or need for survival.

Where individuals may present a point, culture anchors the ship to the way business is done. Culture drives your organization outlook and attitude.

Culture emerges from collective:

  • Behavior,
  • Values,
  • Norms,
  • Assumptions,
  • Expectations, and
  • Process

When organization culture sets, 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

Change is not a linear or ordinal path. Change very often comes in multitudes, rarely in order.  Without an understanding of your organization culture, change becomes astrategy based on luck or hope, and neither luck nor hope are much of a strategy any leader can confidently expect success from.

Constant Change Forces Change

Conditions, like those listed above, constantly occur whether your organization is capable of change or unwilling to change.

Using a Competing Values Framework to analyze your current state allows you to identify organization strength and what to keep. A new focus shows adjustment and modification to excel or to survive.

The Competing Values Framework involves two surveys to allow your organization, leadership, management, and teams to identify what works best and how people within your organization align or disconnect. The survey captures current state and desired future state they build.

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?  Your strategy must rely upon the majority on board, but why might someone resist?

The output data from Competing Values surveys plots across two 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 on one end opposes cultural focus on stability, order, and control at the southern most point Stability and Control.

competing values framework, culture, Toby Elwin, Kim Cameron, template, blank, download, Robert Quinn
select to open larger view

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 two dimensions form four quadrants, the four quadrants each represent a distinct set of culture qualities.  These four 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.

Competing Values Framework, Clan, Market, Ad Hoc, Hierarchy, Toby Elwin, culture, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn
Sources: 1) Diagnosing and 2) Changing Organizational Culture by Kim S. Cameron, Robert E. Quinn

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 identify the culture people are working in, then identify any disconnect, by team or business unit, and create strategy 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:

Competing Values, team, founder, comparison, Toby Elwin, OCAI, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn
select to open larger view

Just from this visual output can see there is a disconnect. With this data and awareness you can begin with a level set of needs to address and from the start of change you now have the heart of 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 it becomes clear to identify disconnect and then manage towards course alignment.

Competing Values, blank, matrix, team alignment, Toby Elwin, OCAI, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn
select to open larger image

Managing successful teams, leading successful transitions, charting new strategy, and making the right decision on what, or who, to invest 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;
  • 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 opportunity 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.

Read more from me on Competing Values or individual posts:

  1. When a small business should fear growth
  2. Fortune 500 revenue here, won’t get you there
  3. Hiring the right person is more cultural than technical
  4. Competing values drive organization resistance
  5. Competing values drive your organization out of business

Three Links and a Source:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Find out your individual profile of current and preferred organizational culture through the free OCAI One. A great help for individual understanding of culture fit.
Diagnosing Changing Organizational Culture, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn, Toby Elwin, Competing Values, Framework, OCAI, organization, culture, assessment, instrument
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Comments 4

  1. As a professional statistician I have worked with several researchers who used Cameron and Quinn’s Organizational Culture Assessment Inventory questionnaire to measure the four types of organizational culture. They use the instrument in a correlational research study design, rather than for diagnosing and evaluating a single company (e.g. a 360 evaluation).

    For example, a researcher might wish to study grade school principals to see if their intention to quit the job is correlated with their perception of the organizational culture they work in. So, the study might have 100 school principals, each has a measure for each of the four types of organizational cultures and each has a measure of their anticipated turnover (measure by the Anticipated Turnover Scale questionnaire, Hinshaw and Atwood).

    Then, we measure the correlation between each of the four organizational culture measures and the anticipated turnover score to determine if one type of culture is more strongly correlated with a principal’s intention to quit the job.

    Basically, in a statistical study, the organizational culture measures can make for interesting independent variables (predictor variables) of a large number of interesting dependent variables (outcome variables), such as job satisfaction, morale, prosocial voice etc.

    1. Post

      I find tremendous value in your comment and association to the Organizational Culture Assessment Inventory tool that is based around Competing Values Framework.

      Many folks throw around terms like valid and reliable, but correlation really hits much closer to the matter of if something is even practical. Too many in business I work around avoid the heart of statistics or misuse statistics to bend the ear of others afraid to touch numbers.

      For me models and frameworks have to meet: practical, tangible, actionable, reliable, valid. In consulting it comes down to “so what?” as in “now what can I do about this?” Otherwise any assessment turns into an exercise in horoscopes and astrology.

      Competing Values and OCAI assessment helps culture move away from the visceral or ethereal with a confident engagement model for change.

      Where do you find the biggest opportunity within practical statistics and a common misunderstanding?

      1. Understanding statistics is the key. The best way to understand statistics is to work with a professional statistician who will guarantee they can explain the statistics to you in a way that you can understand.

        I understand the need for the statistics to have practical significance. But without valid and reliable measurements and statistical tests, there is no possibility of valid and reliable practical significance.

        For example, if you want to determine why some employees are more satisfied with their job than others, and you think it might be related to their perception of the organizational culture, then you must have a valid and reliable way to measure job satisfaction and organizational culture. Then, dependent on the measurement scales of those variables, you choose the proper statistic. Then, depending on the strength of your study design (e.g. sampling strategy, sample size) and the strength of the correlation between the variables, that will have strong implications for the practical significance of the findings.

  2. Pingback: Organizational Culture Change Video Training

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