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How to measure culture within an organization

Being in the process of writing a book on culture, we quickly got frustrated with the existing models to evaluate and measure culture. We found many models such as the Power Distance Index or OCAI  to be overly simplistic. Plus, they often uncover only the visible parts of culture. We wanted a model and process that would allow us to accurately describe all the subcultures, including the hidden ones.

And so we started developing the Hyper-Social Culture Index. The Hyper-Social Culture index borrows from some of the other models, as there are good elements in all of them.

The index is a maturity model that analyses corporate cultures and subcultures on 8 different axes.

  • Individual Behaviors: Learning vs. Knowing (includes the degree to which people strive to learn from data and results, will engage in debate, will adopt others’ processes, and will study failures)
  • Trust: High trust vs. Low Trust (includes the degree to which people desire trust from the organization and from their peers, and how vigorously people will express disagreement with management)
  • Passion: Passion at Work vs. Day at Work (includes the degree to which personnel feel passion for their daily work, interest in staying with their present employer, pride of belonging to the organization, and interest in taking on new work challenges)
  • Risk Profile: Risk Intelligence vs. Risk Intolerance (includes the degree to which personnel will willingly risk failure in the pursuit of progress and will assume accountability)
  • Organizational Structure: Tribe vs. Hierarchy (includes the prevalence of hierarchical power structures, organizational silos, self-assembled teams, etc., and the manner in which decisions are made)
  • Organizational Beliefs: Human Centric vs. Company Centric (includes customs and norms that demonstrably place people (customers and workers) before organizational interests such as financial gain or products)
  • Problem Solving Culture: System vs. Component (includes practices and attitudes that foster integrative thinking about value creation as opposed to simple task performance)
  • Knowledge Culture: Sharing vs. Hoarding (includes customs and practices that encourage the sharing of information, status, and other elements that the organization deem valuable)

We use surveys, ethnographic interviewing techniques, participant observation techniques, and online business problem challenges to gather the information that can populate the maturity index. So far we have been able to use the model very successfully to help large organizations improve their innovation processes and successfully go through change management programs.

We are continuously refining the model and if you or someone you know could give us feedback we would very much appreciate that.

In a future post I will describe how we use consumer culture modeling to to drive successful new product strategies.


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