Publications -Paper: Crucial importance of culture for organizational survival

The Competing Values framework

When looking at organizational culture the Competing Values framework, originally created by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn, is really a nice model to use.

The Competing Value framework defines four kinds of Dominant Organizational Cultures (Adhocracy, Clan, Hierarchy and Market) based on two axes.

  • The Axis: Flexibility & Freedom To Act Focused >< Stability & Control Focused
  • The Axis: Internally & Integration Focused >< Externally & Differentiation Focused


Some reflections on using this frame work

First of all, the four basics forms by itself are OK and neutral.

Secondly, we might come to the conclusion that some organizational cultures if they are dominant or combined, may not match any more with what the “outside world” is expecting from that specific organization.

Thirdly, being confronted as a Transformational Coach with the boom (if not explosion…) in digital transformation programs , it continues to amaze me how many organizations don’t take into account the blocking factors that might come out of their actual dominant culture(s).

And last but not least, when we start cultural change endeavors, we should start in small cycles of 10 people.


The impact of the digital age…!

The digital era forces a lot of organizations in “Warp Speed” into a more Adhocracy Culture focused approach.

Forgetting that a lot of managers/directors are still “mentally blocked” in a hierarchical way of steering and managing, based on an over-emphasis towards processes (BPM) and command/control. The key characteristics of a Hierarchy Culture.

Some of the organizations on the other hand only focus on market share, sales revenue and earnings per share. With products or services no longer requested by their customers! Let’s say that they are stuck in the Market Culture.

The rate in which 50 years plus employees are dumped is also frightening. OK, technology changes but that does not mean that per definition, your employees age 50 or plus become “utterly” obsolete. So a bit more Clan Culture might be considered when redirecting towards the Adhocracy Culture.

That way we make sure that we take in the new technology that we need to service our customers and create state of the art products or services, whilst maintaining our experienced work force in house.



As we say in the transformation community, scars on the body and KM’s on the counter, do still make the difference.

Also when you are implementing new technology…!


Marc Van Obberghen

Partner - Inscriptio


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