Diagnosing and changing organizational culture. Based on the competing values framework (3rd ed.)(2011) by Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn. Review by Anna Burke and R.J. Hartwell

Anna Burke and R. J. Hartwell

Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture. Based on the competing values framework (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cameron and Quinn take on describing organizational culture change through understanding current culture and how to facilitate that change over time. The authors provide a framework to diagnosis culture with the methodologies to enact the desired change. Culture can be conceptualized as “the taken-for-granted values, underlying assumptions, expectations, and definitions that characterize organizations and their members” (p. 18). Cameron and Quinn’s approach to changing culture has advantages, which include being practical, efficient, involving, quantitative, qualitative, manageable, and valid. The approach uses the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), which is outlined below, to obtain information regarding the current state and profile of an organization.

OCAI Book Review

The OCAI asks questions relating to six key areas summarized into four groups:  the leadership, management, glue, and the overall organization itself. Questions are posited to analyze current conditions and the preferred destination after change takes place. The results of each dimension are scored and tabulated to analyze the organization’s present and preferred culture.

The best way to make sense of the results of the OCAI is to generate a visual representation of strength levels in each of the four major culture types (Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy). This can be done twice, once with current results and once with preferred (future) results. When the results of the OCAI are graphed or plotted, they overlay what is known as the Competing Values Framework.

This framework can be described by visualizing the four quadrants in a Cartesian Coordinate Plane with two diagonal axes crossing through at the Origin, (point (0,0)). The values on the diagonals increase as they move away from the Origin. An individual would plot their average score for the questions regarding each of the four major culture types on the diagonals within the associated quadrant. The result is a diamond shape. The stronger the sense of Clan culture for example, the further out the diamond point would sit in the Clan quadrant. The current and preferred results can be plotted over each other for comparison purposes. In this way, the user can see where he/she stands with regard to a certain culture, where he/she would like to be within that culture, and how far away he/she is from that goal.

Likewise, a manager or leader who is reviewing these results can gain a visual idea of where the building currently is with regard to the four competing culture types. He/she can use this to drive his/her preparation, plan, and most importantly their approach to leading the building to the preferred culture. The authors described in detail, that in order for a culture to respond to a leader or manager, said person would have to have the approach the worked well with that particular culture. As such, the manager or leader needs to be well versed in multiple forms of management and needs to be flexible enough to strengthen areas of his/her management skills in order to see the process through. Members can partake in plotting a personal management skills profile in order to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, which can then be plotted right over the top of the same competing values framework.

The amount of insight and overlapping observations that can be noted by using, plotting, and analyzing the results of the OCAI from such varied groups of an organization is astounding!


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