The “Red Pill” of Cultural Change: Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI)

Guest Author Joyce Prosser, Alumni, MAOD

Are you seeking to understand why workers and management are not on the same page? Does your manager demand that you produce more work than you can reasonably complete? Do you work for a micromanager who is quick to point out your errors and/or lack of efficiency? Are you the quiet member of a rowdy boisterous team? Are your unique ideas unappreciated or underutilized?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, you are in no way alone.  For years, many have battled to understand why management “just did not get it.” No doubt, some managers have the same sentiment as their employees.

red-pillIf you would like to learn more about your culture and may be ready to consider change, I recommend the “Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument” (OCAI). Like the “red pill” in the 1999 movie, The Matrix, the OCAI can help you find the “truth of reality” in your organization. Knowledge is the first step toward enacting change.

According to authors, Cameron and Quinn (2011) people are unaware of their culture until it is challenged, or they experienced a new culture, or their culture is made overt and explicit. Their research has also found that organizational culture can impact individuals in many ways including morale, commitment, productivity, physical health, and emotional well-being. The OCAI can help you determine your organization’s culture and begin the process of addressing cultural change.

Is your organization a “Clan, Hierarchy, Adhocracy, or Marketing” culture?

Most organizations have developed a dominant cultural style. An organization rarely has only one type of culture. Often, there is a mix of the four organizational cultures that are described in the Figure below: Clan, Advocacy, Hierarchy, or Marketing (OCAI online, 2017).

competingvaluesframeworkClan (Collaborative) Clan cultures are collaborative, family oriented environments that have a significant amount of interaction between the employees and management. Management is a part of the mentoring process for the team. Loyalty, tradition, and commitment are highly regarded, leaders assume parental roles, and this warmth trickles down to its internal/external customers (Cameron and Quinn, 2011).

Hierarchy (Control) In a Hierarchy culture, you have a controlled, formalized, structured environment where policies and procedures are established, and protocol and boundaries are set. Implemented for uniformity and control, those who run such organizational cultures are more concerned with pushing out consistent, efficient productivity to remain a step ahead of its competitors (Cameron and Quinn, 2011).image2prosser

Adhocracy (Create) The Adhocracy culture values the creativity that employees produce and foster in the workplace. Innovation and commitment are regarded over loyalty, tradition, and family. Success is governed by new opportunities that creativity can render, for example, new innovative products such as the iPad. Without restrictions, employees are given the freedom to create.

Market (Compete) The Market culture is an aggressive, competing, results-driven culture.  Leaders drive employees to increase profitability and meet company objectives (Cameron and Quinn, 2011). This organizational culture is very intense. The bottom line is to compete for results that establish and maintain a brand amongst its competitors while also increasing the organization’s market share.

Knowing your organization’s current dominant culture, as well as what is preferred by you and your fellow employees, creates an opportunity for the organization to retain quality people, increase profitability, generate innovative products while unifying and presenting consistent and quality branding. The OCAI assessment is a useful tool that can identify you and your organization’s expectations and further the discussion of how to bridge the gap between the two.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would you characterize the culture of your organization? Is it a Clan, Advocacy, Hierarchy, or Marketing culture?
  2. How effective is your organization’s culture? How might a different culture be more effective?

Reference:

Cameron, K.S., & Quinn, R.E. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture: Based on the competing values framework (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

OCAI – Online. (2017, January 22).  OCAI Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.ocai-online.com/about-the-Organizational-Culture-Assessment-Instrument-OCAI/OCAI-Assessment

OCAI – Online. (2017, January 22).  Organizational Culture Types. Retrieved from https://www.ocai-online.com/about-the-Organizational-Culture-Assessment-Instrument-OCAI/Organizational-Culture-Types

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8 comments

  • The culture of an organization can be a very sensitive topic to some, especially to those who took part in founding the organization. Having the tools to be able to adapt to changes in the organization and allow proper assessments of these changes and the effects they may have on the culture is extremely beneficial. I enjoyed this post as I am wrapping up my final module in my Organizational Development course, learning about the culture of an organization was the most intriguing process to me by far. I think this tool can be useful for companies that are experiencing changes in certain areas, but the corporate levels, for example, are unaware of the effects that the changes are having on the people. Understanding your organization is the key to success and this tool would enable individuals to do just that.

  • I enjoyed reading this post and it was interesting to learn about the four types of cultures that exist within an organization, I believe my current organization is a combination of Hierarchy and Market cultures as the focus is sales driven.

  • Pingback: ‘Unfreeze, Move, Freeze ‘ – Using Kurt Lewin’s model to identify the need for change in your organization – The Imperfect Org

  • I find the OCAI to be very valuable in assessing culture. I was first introduced to it last semester and have used in projects this semester. I currently work in a Clan culture. After doing the OCAI on my own employer, I have learned that Clan is my preferred.

  • This is a great topic! Timely too as my organization has been going through a great deal of change over the past 18 months or so, and because of that I can see the culture changing. I would say that we are primarily a hierarchical culture. We have to be due to the nature of the organization; we are a hospital. So we need stability and control, established policies and procedures, and accountability because people’s lives are at stake.

    However, we also had a strong measure of the Clan culture. Concern for people, sensitivity for our customers (our patients) and a supportive work environment. There was definitely a sense of tradition. People were loyal and committed to the unique culture we have here. Unfortunately, changes had to be made in response to the changing healthcare environment. Our leadership is implementing various changes to help the organization be more efficient and sustainable while positioning us for future growth.

    I get that, I really do. In today’s rapidly changing and often uncertain healthcare environment we would not be able to keep our doors open if we continued on the path we were on for much longer. But at the same time, it saddens me to see what is happening to culture. I think leadership chooses to not see it or not acknowledge it but we are losing our clan culture. We are losing what has set us apart from every other hospital out there. Our employees sense it and it is reflected in their words and actions. Patients have noticed it too. Morale is very poor because of so many layoffs across the organization. Resources are not as plentiful or as easily accessible as they once were and people are unhappy. They are no longer committed. They see their friends and co-workers out of work and wonder who is next. They feel the burden of the additional workload with less staff around and they suffer because they feel they can no longer give patients the kind of care they deserve. They are leaving on their own before the axe falls on them with the next wave of layoffs.

    So no, during this transitional time, our culture is not effective. I am sure we will weather this storm, but frankly, I think the clan culture won’t fully recover. I think it’s going to take an influx of new employees who did not know the old culture to develop a new one. One that will not sit well with employees who remember how it used to be.

  • Great Post! I found the OCAI assessment to be very useful. I completed the assessment for class, but ended up getting much better insight on how I felt about my organization’s current culture, and what i preferred it to be. I already had a basic understanding of what I wanted or what I felt was missing, but this assessment really drove it home for me!

  • I find the OCAI to be incredibly useful. My current organization is going through a change and the OCAI has helped direct which way the culture should go. Luckily, we are not that far off from ideal and current. The OCAI is great for clarity on culture.

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