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Popular models compared

Works such as Schein, Handy and Deal & Kennedy have given us an insight to the make up of an organisation, a living and changing entity with a personality harbouring values and beliefs. Schein gave 3 levels to set the scene of a belief structure. The levels together determine who or what that organisation is, stands for, does and what its values are. Artefacts establishes the rituals and reputation that stands out openly, the brand describing ‘this is who I am’ Espoused Values moves into of codes of conduct and behaviour which are to be followed by its employees. Underlying assumptions are then the expectation and understanding of the organisation. Scheins model seeks to label and define the culture as something that has almost created itself. I can see how this fits into charitable organisations which start with a strong held value and belief with expected behaviours of its people.

Handy is probably the most popular model and takes a more inside view, Whereas Schein is ‘visionary’ in concept, Handy’s shows how culture types are created by its structure and people. Culture gods are a metaphor for describing not just the main persona but of the subcultures that exist and in addition, how the balance can shift over time and between departments. A predominant Zeus (power) culture describes the power being with the few, one or a small group hold authority and direct all others, Apollo (role) offers structure and order with a hierarchal composition of roles and responsibilities. The job role holds the power. Athena (task) as it suggests is task oriented, similar to Apollo except the task can determine the expertise and so may not always follow a hierarchy of command. In this instance the power is held by those with the skill to undertake their duties. Finally Dionysus (person) culture provides an almost free for all on power and in reality can be seen in partnerships such as law firms with equal ownership.

Cameron and Quinn developed a similar quadrant model to that of Handy. Tools such as Cameron and Quinns (2006) OCAI (Culture and FRAMEWORK, 2021) and similarly Handys questionnaire can give us an overview of where an organisations dominant culture type may sit by scoring or weighting value towards statements of current opinion vs future idealist wants. The problem with these however is that they are subjective depending on who is filling in the questionnaire. Most certainly my answers or scores are very different now to what they were as owner and I can imagine that opinions would differ throughout the organisation. To gain a balanced view this instrument would need to be completed by a wide variety of employees across tiers of hierarchy and departments (to see sub cultures) but even then how useful is this information. Does it tell the truth about an organisations culture or does it simply tell us what people think of it? The Denison model takes more detail breaking down values and correlating results to identify culture but also match this against performance so finding areas needed for improvement and as this method compares scores to many other organisations we should see a pattern that allows more reliability to Cameron and Quinns. Please see my separate post on Cameron and Quinns Framework where you can download the template here….

Hofstede again offers an analysis that maps a multi focus model and allows us to see where we want to develop and improve. Is there an ideal culture? Well not really as this depends on the type of organisation and what its values are but we can start to address issues such as diversity, inclusion, agile working, engagement and innovation… the list goes on. By having a cultural strategy in place of where we want to be we can align goals and objectives within the strategic plan that is communicated throughout the organisation making clear what the vision is, what our values are and what we want to improve on. So then dealing with conflicting messages methods such as values trade off should be considered. This is where we consider the top values and ensure they are set in priority, for example if quality is a top value over task completion then having to report that a project has not been completed on time due to expectations on standard then this is acceptable, time scales are over ridden as a value by quality. This method allows for conflict to be acceptable. Healthy conflict vs unhealthy is another method widely used, healthy being an encouragement for employees to disagree and discuss and promoting this can allow for healthy problem solving. Identifying unhealthy conflict is important as this can lead to poor attitude and habitual disagreements. In all cases conflict resolution should be adopted to manage the situation quickly and effectively and there are numerous models and methods for this which I will address in other posts.