Organizational Culture is like the air we breathe – invisible but sustaining and pervasive. Successful change, developing leaders, improving engagement must begin with first understanding your culture.
There are many models for culture; William E. Schneider’s from his book The Reengineering Alternative is one that is easy to grasp. Schneider’s competing values matrix model defines 4 different type cultures: Collaboration, Control, Cultivation, Competence. No one culture is ‘better’ than another; culture is how we do things around here and should reflect the org’s mission.
Schneider’s Model is on 2 axes:
Horizontal Axis – considers what the organization pays attention to.
- PEOPLE-oriented: People fulfill roles; the workers are critical to the company’s goals.
- COMPANY-oriented: Company as a collective knows how to achieve its goals – emphasizes work roles over workers.
Vertical Axis – how the company makes decisions, forms judgments.
- REALITY-Oriented: Company prefers the concrete-tangible facts, data. Ambiguity is to be resolved, not tolerated. Change only after careful deliberation. Rely on actual experience, not theory. What can be seen, heard, touched, measured.
- POSSIBILITY-Oriented: Company prefers possibility: What can be. Ideas, possibilities, change is necessary.
4 Culture Types
Control cultures (COMPANY/REALITY oriented) are process-driven; the org’s success depends on data, processes, etc. Many energy, aviation, defense companies are control cultures. Control cultures want no competition – they want to be the only game in town. Leaders manage the work; control cultures are command-and-control, hierarchical. Examples: The military, police, Exxon.
Collaboration cultures (PEOPLE/REALITY oriented) – people work together toward a shared goal. Here you’ll find “working managers” – everyone rolls up their sleeves. Relationships are key to getting things accomplished. Google is an example, though also has cultivation culture elements.
Cultivation Cultures (PEOPLE/POSSIBILITY oriented) are often centered around a greater mission; examples include religious organizations, non-profits, social impact organizations. Leaders remove obstacles that impede attaining the org’s mission. Examples – Zappos, Doctors Without Borders.
Competence Cultures (COMPANY/POSSIBILITY oriented) are innovative (possibility) and are utilize the best talent to bring ideas to bear. This culture is about being the best and winning – best product, most market share, etc. Leaders are results-driven and will hire and fire to do what needs to be done. Examples: Deloitte, Apple.
There is a correlation with the DISC behavioral model; for example, strong “D” styles will thrive in a Competence culture because their natural style is to compete and win. They will encounter frustration in a process-driven Control culture.
Uses for the Schneider culture model:
- Agile Adoption: Agilitrix writes extensively about using this model to facilitate agile adoption.
- Leadership Development: Before embarking on a leadership development program it’s useful to understand the context leaders are operating in. Training leaders to be more collaborative or cultivate development of employees is challenging (if not impossible) if the culture doesn’t support it.
- Culture transformation: Understand where you are and where you want to go. The Schneider assessment helps you identify where you are and a good facilitator/OD pro can help you understand what you need to change to achieve that transformation.
- Change initiatives: Similar to the above bullet, understanding your culture helps spot potential roadblocks and assets when implementing enterprise-level change.
- Culture “fit”: When someone doesn’t ‘fit’ in your culture it’s useful to compare behavioral profile (DISC) with your culture. Diversity is important – a cultivation culture with all “S” or “I” styles may never get anything done! Goal and task-oriented types are needed as well. Having the data helps you place people in the right role and the right time, or understand why a highly skilled hire isn’t thriving.
Click here for the complete Schneider Culture Assessment: Culture-Assessment-Schneider Culture