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OCI Human Synergistics Culture Model

OCI Human Synergistics Culture Model

  • 29 June 2017
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

Culture Models Continued: The Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI) is a culture survey developed and validated by Clayton Lafferty and Robert Cooke - also branded as Human Synergistics. They discern twelve behavioral and thinking styles of both individuals and organizations - based on a grid with two polarities: people versus task orientation, and satisfaction versus security needs.

The twelve styles are grouped into three general clusters: Constructive, Passive/Defensive, and Aggressive/Defensive.

The Constructive style stimulates individual, group, and organizational performance. The Aggressive/Defensive style has a negative impact, while the Passive/Defensive style detracts from overall effectiveness. This culture theory is developmental instead of descriptive: it aims toward a Constructive culture type.

Constructive Culture

Organizations that encourage healthy interaction, where people can share ideas, exchange information and discuss things to come to solutions. Conflicts arise when employees feel neglected and are not allowed to speak their minds. Based on satisfaction needs and a tendency toward people orientation.

Achievement: A constructive culture helps the employees to achieve their targets. It values setting and achieving your own goals. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Compete, Collaborate, and Create Cultures).

Self-Actualizing: People stay motivated when they realize their full potential. This culture values personal development, growth, creativity, and joy. Quality is more important than quantity. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Collaborate and Create Cultures).

Humanistic-Encouraging: A Constructive Culture encourages employees to deliver their best. Participative, person-oriented, people are supposed to be supportive and open. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Collaborate Culture).

Affiliative: Employees avoid conflicts and unnecessary disputes and promote a positive climate: they’re supposed to be friendly. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Collaborate Culture - sometimes also Control Culture).

Passive Culture

In a passive culture, the main motive of the employee is to please the superiors and make his position safe and secure in the organization. They unhappily follow the rules just to save their job. Based on people-orientation, and a tendency toward security needs.

Approval: Employees can’t take decisions on their own but need their boss’s approval before implementing any idea. You must be liked. Relations are pleasant on the surface, conflicts are avoided. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Collaborate and Control Cultures).

Conventional: Employees are bound by rules and regulations and act according to the prescribed standards only. Bureaucratically controlled, conservative, traditional. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Control Culture).

Dependent: The performance of people is dependent on the superior’s decisions and they follow orders. Non-participative hierarchies with centralized decision making: do what you’re told and ask permission first. (Compared with the CVF: this can be an expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

Avoidance: Employees tend to avoid their personal satisfaction. It’s safer to follow the company’s policies. These cultures fail to reward success but punish mistakes. This negative feedback system causes people to shift responsibility to others. (Compared with the CVF: this can be a shadow side expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

Aggressive Culture

Organizations with an aggressive culture encourage employees to compete against each other so that each one performs better. Asking for assistance is seen as incompetent. Every individual vies for power, attention, and appreciation. Based on task orientation and a tendency toward security needs.

Opposition: derived from a need of security, people ask critical, or cynical questions. Though that might lead to better ideas, it might also distract attention to irrelevant details. Confrontation and negativism are rewarded. People gain status by opposing and being critical. (Compared with the CVF: this can be a shadow side expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

Power: needs for prestige leads to equating self-worth with controlling others. People dictate others or even treat them aggressively. This culture overvalues position power and people believe they should take charge. (Compared with the CVF: this can be a shadow side expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

Perfectionist: with self-worth linked to flawless results, and never making mistakes - there is a focus on details. This results in excessive demands, impatience, and frustration. The culture values hard work, perfectionism, and persistence. Avoid mistakes, track everything and achieve your detail-described targets. (Compared with the CVF: this can be a shadow side expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

Competitive: protecting your status by comparison with others you never want to appear to lose, but outperform the others. You look for recognition and praise competitions that you can win. It’s a win-lose mindset where you must win to be noticed.

(Compared with the CVF: this can be a shadow side expression of Control and Compete Cultures).

The above twelve descriptions show recognizable behaviors that are not mutually exclusive. For example, you could see all four styles of the Aggressive Culture at the same time in a very toxic workplace culture. What can be insightful though, is to assess your culture by the three broad categories Constructive, Passive, and Aggressive.

* Can you categorize your group or organization in the Human Synergistics types? Does your organization display a Constructive, Passive, or Aggressive Culture?

Compared to the Competing Values Framework, you can see that the Constructive Culture overlaps with features of the Flexibility quadrants; Collaborate and Create Culture types - and once with an egalitarian expression of Compete Culture (setting your own goals). This gives us an indication of what to look for when developing a positive culture.

The Passive Culture aligns mainly with the Stability quadrants of Control and Compete Culture types and leans toward their shadow sides. Only once does it compare to a shadow side of Collaborate culture. The Aggressive Culture resonates with the shadow sides of Control and Compete Cultures.

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.