Skip to main content

Deal and Kennedy Culture Model

  • 18 May 2017
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

In this Culture Model Series: Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy were among the first to identify four culture types, back in 1982 when they published their book Corporate Cultures. Their foundations are two marketplace factors that influence cultures: the risk associated with an organization’s key activities and the speed of feedback that tells the organization whether or not its actions are successful.

Thus, we arrive at another matrix that helps us to map our culture.

Tough Guy Macho Culture

When the degree of risk is high and the speed of feedback is fast - you develop a Tough Guy Macho Culture. Individualistic people who like risk and who can handle quick feedback thrive in this culture. People work hard to be stars and don’t care much for teamwork. There’s a focus on the present where you create success. There may be high turnover. It can be exhausting.

Typical industry sectors are the police, surgeons, advertising, sports, entertainment industry. (This shows similarities with the Create Culture and its risk and individualism).

Work Hard Play Hard Culture

With a low degree of risk but fast feedback - you are likely to see a Work Hard Play Hard Culture. Employees take fewer risks but the feedback is immediate and clear - as for instance in sales. You need to have a lot of energy to keep up with the pace - and you will be rewarded soon and “play hard” to celebrate.

There’s appreciation for teams as they can drive people to extraordinary performance - but they use competition; internal contests, to challenge people to give even more.

Typical in sales, restaurants, software companies, some manufacturing companies or consultancies. (This shows similarities with the getting things done mentality and competitive mindset of the Compete Culture).

Bet-Your-Company Culture

With a high risk but slow feedback - that can sometimes even take years - you’re prone to develop a Bet-Your-Company Culture. It is vital to make the right decision so the values are long-term focused, the future is important, and analysis, planning, performing due diligence and preparing are key.

Pharmaceutical companies, oil and gas companies, architects and large capital-intensive industries fall into this group. (Here we see similarities with the diligence and careful analysis of Control Culture).

Process Culture

When risk is low and the feedback is slow, you are not used to a high pace and lots of adventure. You’re working in a Process Culture. Because of the slow feedback, you can’t easily determine the results you accomplish so instead, people focus on the process. How they do things - with technical excellence and due diligence. The focus is on what worked well in the past, on the status quo and stability, and comfort.

This is the world of large retailers, banks, insurance companies and government organizations. (This shows similarities with Control Culture as well).

Competing Values Framework comparison

To finish the comparison with the CVF culture types; we miss the people-oriented Collaborate Culture. I often see this culture type in health care and education organizations. The risk is low in these sectors - but the feedback is rather fast. They find out rather soon whether clients return to their schools or hospitals and how they like the quality. According to Deal and Kennedy, these sectors would display a Work Hard Play Hard culture - but that is not the case. This gives me the feeling that this model does not cover all possible situations and is less complete.

* Can you categorize your group or organization in the Deal & Kennedy culture types? Do you operate in a low or high-risk context? How fast or slow is the feedback on your activities?

In this blog series, I compare other culture models with the Competing Values Framework. Feel free to let me know what you think!

Do you want to know how your organization scores on the Competing Values Framework? Do the free individual OCAI trial here. Or check out the paid Pro and Enterprise assessments for teams and organizations.

© Marcella Bremer 2017. All rights reserved.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.