Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


How can you change your organization’s culture? Book Review: “Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture (1)

If you recognize that your organization needs either a wholesale culture change (as Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop expressed this week (2)) or tweaking in certain units, this book will provide you with an excellent framework and the language to discuss it.  The authors, Cameron and Quinn, are renown in this space and the book is an expansion of decades of academic research and field application.

The foundation, Competing Values Framework, sets out a 2×2 matrix with 4 different organizational culture types (Clan, Hierarchy, Adhocracy and Market Cultures) and the authors maintain that most organizations exhibit differing degrees of each.

The beauty of the framework is that it takes the intuitive (and sometimes not so intuitive) and makes it plain, gives it structure that can be measured and discussed.  As I peeked ahead to read the model, I could immediately recognize characteristics s of organizations that I have worked with.  Even rough plotting current and desired state values seemed intuitive and suddenly easy to talk about. Further reading illuminating much more meat on the model worthy of further study – the Management Skills Assessment Instrument and Organizational Change Assessment Instrument (OCAI) are simultaneously straightforward and comprehensive.

The book claims that the approach provides six advantages: practical, timely, involving, quantitative and qualitative, manageable and valid.  I have to concur – this book delivers. 

Evidence is emerging every quarter that our most established and revered organizations are only reactive to change – are not demonstrating the capability to evolve at the pace that the market is demanding.  In my opinion, these organizations are constrained by three factors: the vision of leadership, the effectiveness of their strategies and … the ability to change the cultures of these organizations.  The success of our economies and our communities going forward will depend, to large degree, on whether we accelerate our commitment to these areas. 

In correspondence with Professor Quinn I asked for authoritative online description of OCAI to share with you and he referred me to the Competing Values Company where you can access much more information.

Of note, the third edition, published by John Wiley, is due for release in Canada on March 9th 2011 and will contain a downloadable online version of the Management Skills Assessment Instrument and the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument.

Also of note, I think we can expect to hear the reference to “the burning platform” a lot more in 2011.  It would be appropriate to acknowledge Daryl Conner who coined the phrase following the Piper Alpha explosion to articulate the notion of choice between certain death (failure) and potential life (hope).  He was interviewed recently by Luc Galoppin and described this in his own words “Burning Platform: The Misunderstanding ” (Part 1 here and Part 2 here).

Footnotes:

(1) “Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture”, Kim S. Cameron and Roger E. Quinn, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, USA.

(2)“Nokia CEO Says Company Is Standing on a “Burning Platform”, Mashable, Feb 9, 2011.

Other related posts:


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you for such a great review Gail. The book sounds simply facinating!

I have put the book on my wish list for when the 3rd edition is released!

Comment by Juanita

Hi Gail,
It’s great that you reviewed the book that was mentioned in the Linkedin discussion group! I have nothing to add -agree completely of course with your enthusiasm about this book and the OCAI tool!
One thing to add: the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) is available online at http://www.ocai-online.com and is free to use for individual participants. It gives you all the information and your profiles.
Marcella Bremer MScBA

Comment by Marcella Bremer

You have me interested. Thanks for the article.

Comment by David




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