OCAI Workshop at Philadelphia Care
"The OCAI assessment made the need for market culture apparent. Team opinion shifted."
How do you take advantage of the results of your organizational culture assessment? It's essential to work these out during an OCAI workshop. Berrie Stam, regional manager at Philadelphia Care (care for disabled people), shares their story with us. "We achieved a great outcome. The team suddenly understood that they need more than just getting along well. Resistance to targets and results disappeared when the team realized that they are necessary for a successful future."
Philadelphia's management team, consisting of location managers, health care counselors, and executives participated in the useful OCAI workshop. People usually have an overall picture of their organizational culture. So does the Philadelphia team, as we saw during a meeting on a sunny day during springtime in Zwolle. They describe their culture with the key word "solidarity".
The results of their assessment correspond to this term: their dominant culture is the friendly clan culture. Innovative adhocracy culture and efficient hierarchy culture share second place, followed by the results-oriented market culture, which received the lowest rating.
The overall profile of the current culture is an average score of all individual respondents. This collective profile is recognizable to the team, but individual differences are sometimes huge. It is important to look at those dissimilarities and take advantage of them.
How come a team member's perception of the organizational culture differs so much from the perception of their colleagues? Answering this question may clarify matters for the team and organization.
Some of the differences when filling in an assessment can be explained by nature. "I like discipline, so I prefer a stronger hierarchy culture." Also your specific job or profession makes a difference. "In my job, there is a lot of uncertainty about many things, so I have given high ratings to adhocracy culture." And last but not least, it depends on whether or not you have an executive position. Executives tend to have higher ratings when it comes to clan culture, possibly because they feel at ease in their own team or department. Almost every assessment we have seen so far shows this tendency, which was also discovered by Cameron & Quinn.
It's important to notice the dissimilarities that provide new information that the team can benefit from.
Team members who have vision will foresee trends—people who have an eye for details will see the first signs of subtle but important change or even a latent problem. Team members who have many outside contacts may have a different outlook on the situation.
It can be worthwhile to compare and discuss the individual profiles when the team is not too big. Of course, this is not a feasible option when you do an overall organization's assessment with large numbers of participants. Discussing individual profiles within a team will enhance understanding between colleagues. You can also gain more insight into the current situation and reach consensus on the important issues for the team and/or organization at this moment.
Ten people know more than one. By taking advantage of discrepancies, you will get a picture that is as complete as possible, without overlooking anything. Also, the current culture will be given a solid basis by discussing specific examples so that the participants will not talk abstractly about it. They are able to specify what attributes belong to their unique culture mix in terms of leadership style, values and beliefs, skills, criteria of success, specific behavior, perceptible results, and examples.
For that matter, the Philadelphia team reaches consensus quickly. Berrie Stam says, "The individual discrepancies confronted me. We are all different personalities. That becomes very clear now, whereas I assume automatically that most people think the way I do, more or less. Also, I had to adjust my self-image as a manager. I thought I was a result-focused person, but I appear to emphasize concern for people, according to my team."
It is quite amusing to see such an objectified image of your organizational culture. It is recognizable but will also be helpful in guiding change.
Does the preferred culture support our future?
This team turns out to have a preferred culture very similar to the current culture. On the one hand, this is positive as a measure for employee satisfaction. It seems to correspond to the way team members behave: they get along well and communicate openly.
On the other hand, it may be interpreted as some resistance to the upcoming reorganization at Philadelphia Care. A number of employees, including some management team members, will have to change jobs. "Possibly what you see here is the wish that everything stays the same," as a team member explained. What surprises the team is their low rating awarded to market culture. The preferred situation shows an even lower score than their already low current market culture. A heated discussion starts immediately. It's very confrontational for the team now that they see their current and preferred profiles. Though they were opposed to market culture before, they now start to realize that they need more market culture to achieve future success.
This is an important part of the workshop and also significant when it comes to making the OCAI assessment useful. The preferred culture as an outcome of the assessment is not an unchangeable law but may certainly be tested against ideas about the future. "Is this what we really need in the near future?" If necessary, a team or an organization is allowed to adjust their outcome for preferred culture to better meet future goals and demands. Unlike the current culture, wishes or future plans can still be revised.
On a flipchart, the team begins to list trends, opportunities, and risks concerning the next five years. In this case, major developments ahead are the reorganization at Philadelphia and the upcoming huge merger. Also, the increasing number of articulate patients and their parents requires much more customer orientation. The demand for health care is changing, and Philadelphia might find new target groups. There are also many changes expected in the field of finance, public governance, and accountability.
Next, for each of these developments, the appropriate culture will be defined. "What do we need to meet these trends?" All four culture types turn out to be necessary, but the team reverses the order. The dominant future culture must be market culture instead of the current clan culture.
This is an eye-opener that works like dynamite. As the team's manager Berrie Stam says, "In advance we had not expected we would do this....."
Revised preferred culture
Yet, after listing the culture types in the best order, there is still some discussion about the extent to which the organization should be market focused. "When you divide hundred points, how many points would you give to the results-oriented market culture?"
It's often better not to divide 25 points equally to each culture type. Every change initiative needs focus, movement, and direction. By dividing 100 points equally among the four alternatives, the culture profile will be shaped like a static square. Squares don't move. They are a bit of everything and thus not clearly recognizable and focused. It's our experience that choices are necessary to achieve direction and momentum to move.
Changing step by step
The team's new adjusted preferred culture demands further specification in order to become clear, inspiring, acceptable, and specific for everybody. This can be done very thoroughly by using the so-called ABCDE table: an organizational change plan at five levels to work out during a workshop. This plan is available in OCAI Online's accompanying Work Kit.
Berrie Stam says, "I am pleased with the fact that the outcome of our preferred culture created necessity within the team. By looking at the preferred profile and by testing it against ideas about the future, a sense of urgency arose to reconsider result achievement and market culture. That's a great gain, because before, most team members were opposed to market culture. That's not uncommon with people working in health care: they have chosen their profession because they want to work with people. They tend to emphasize and prefer clan culture. But we do need targets and results."