The Stable Culture


In my last post I referred to Daniel Denison and his work on the link between organization culture and bottom-line performance measures such as ROI, ROA, Sales Growth, Quality and Employee Satisfaction. The Denison Model, made up of four culture traits, Mission, Consistency, Involvement, and Adaptability, serves as the basis for the Denison Organizational Culture Survey and the Denison Leadership Development Survey that are tremendously helpful tools.

While each trait is important and part of any culture, certain combined sets of traits have proven to produce certain organizational results. We’ll look at the combination that produces the Stable Culture in this post.

A focus on Mission and Consistency produce the Stable Culture. Companies that focus on Mission and Consistency impact such measure as Return on Assets, Return on Investment and Return on Sales.

Within the traits, certain building blocks must be involved to create Mission and Consistency and leaders who want to create stability as well as solid ROA, ROI and quality should focus on these:

Strategic Direction and Intent – Companies who want to focus on Mission need to make certain that strategic direction is not only communicated but also executed. It’s a matter of communication and delivery. They also focus on long-term strategies.

Goals and Objectives – Mission-driven companies set goals and objectives from the top down. People are not confused where the ship is heading and they know if they meet their goals that it will get there. They involve employees in the goal-setting process and they find ways to track progress. All goals are aligned with the vision.

Vision – All people will have a clear understanding of the vision. That means it’s easy to understand, grasp and communicate to others. It’s the lighthouse beacon that keeps the ships from straying off course. In mission-driven organizations it rarely changes. They make it so everyone sees the connection between mission and daily activities.

Coordination and Integration – Companies that score high in consistency have tremendous coordination and integration within the organization. Things like project hand offs, goal alignment, policies, and procedures are probably well documented and rarely change. Integrated companies strive to use informal networks to get things done and do well in cross-functional projects. They also build support through contacts with other departments or units.

Agreement – Companies who score high in consistency work hard to help people reach consensus, even on difficult issues. They relish in bringing out diverse opinions when making decisions and they promote constructive discussion among people with conflicting ideas. They seek win/win solutions whenever disagreements occur and they seek to clarify and understand other’s points of view when there are differences.

Core Values – Consistent companies do “the right thing” even when it unpopular. They walk the talk and have an established ethical code that guides their behavior and is non-negotiable. The core values shape the standards and employees actively use the core values are filters for working with others. In other words, their “yes” means “yes” and their “no,” means “no”.

Leaders seeking a Stable Culture need to focus thier leadership style on Mission and Consistency. They need to develop ways within the organization to bring vision, values, agreement, coordination, a long-term view and strategic intent into play every day.


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