On Becoming Great! Culture and Values—whassup?-

  • -

On Becoming Great! Culture and Values—whassup?-

Category : Blog

Almost every organization has two organizational dynamics-  They have Operating Values— and they have an Organizational Culture.  The Operational Values are at work mostly towards the customer, and to a large degree towards one another.  Organizational Culture is usually about how and to what extent authority is shared, how decisions are made and the focus and freedom people have within the context of their day to day life.  To the degree that there is a disconnect between these two, 
there is a problem with organizational “effectiveness.”  

There are four types of organizational cultures-

  • Power
  • Position (role)
  • Work (task)
  • People

Power  This organization is mainly “leader” based. The person in charge is most important. It is a “productive” environment. People are busy.  Personal loyalty from subordinates is key. Committees, if they exist, are highly structured and the chairperson rules. . Change happens quickly but not always efficiently and at the behest of the leader. Employees are not very well informed beyond the “moment.” Top-down decision-making is the norm. Influencing of outcomes is based mostly on who has authority, power or dominance in the group regardless of title or job description. The only crossover of work groups by individuals would be initiated by the mandate of the leader. The main concern is for those in charge.  Some entrepreneurial organizations would fit this orientation, e.g. New businesses, start-ups, crisis centers, some military organizations.


Position (Role)  This organization operates mainly from the organizational chart. It is an “efficient” high maintenance environment based on a sense of order and commitment.  Loyalty is to the whole, and work is performed out of a sense of duty.  Top-down decision-making is the norm. Rank, title and departmental function rule, and there is very little crossover. Committees are valuable as part of the structure. Change occurs slowly. Employees are informed if they “need to know” based on their position or title. Outcomes are influenced based on rules, policies and by which department or job title has responsibility for a task or outcome. The main concern is for order, status quo in policy and structure and for the organization as a whole.   Some “institutions” use this ideology, e.g. government agencies, universities, institutions, military, unions.

Work (Task)-  This organization operates based on the premise that the work itself is what’s important.  The emphasis is more on doing “good work” and less on who does it or whose job it is. It is a “high achievement” environment.  Loyalty to the “work” is the driving force. Committee’s are non existent except to form a temporary work group in accomplishing some task. Change occurs quickly but only based on need. Information is free flowing and is seen as critical to getting the job done. Decisions can be made across a wide variety of ranks and departments, as the most important thing is to do the job well.  There is lots of crossover and teamwork.  Outcomes are influenced by a sense of mission, vision and what needs to be done. Leadership is based on what a person knows and can do. Who the leader is might vary based on the task at hand.  Most high performing teams and organizations employ some degree of “task-orientation.”

People  This organization operates based upon a high regard for people and their welfare.  The emphasis is on what people need and how best to provide them with it. It is a high support environment. Loyalty and affection to “one another” are the driving forces. Committee’s are like clubs. Information is free flowing but is usually highly personal and meant to empower support.  Decisions are made collectively, democratically, or in groups, while always maintaining and improving relationship. There may be group efforts but “getting along” during the effort will be very important. Outcomes are measured based on how they help the people. Leadership is consensual. Examples would be some Churches, Fraternal Clubs and Organizations, Benevolent Organizations, Support Groups.   

Most organizational cultures are a set of TWO of these with one dominant. 
 Fore Example- The Catholic Church is a Power-Role culture. YET it’s operating values have very much to do with loving and caring for the members.  But its organizational culture is hierarchical and very much role based.  The US government is this way as well. Of, by and for the people.  But organizationally Role-Power.
I have a client who is Customer Intimate, who also has a Power-Role organizational culture. 
Does this disconnect impact effectiveness?….yes it does.  The main ingredient in reconciling the two dynamics is TRUST, which can be overcome in most cases.  When I work with your organization we will determine if this disconnect exists, (it usually does), because we will work to eliminate the gap between them.  A gap between Operating Values and Organizational structure comes from that which is “dysfunctional” in how we relate to each other.