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Culture Assessment
Culture Assessment

Why Culture Assessment?

Leaders often assume they exactly know what their culture is? At other times, they point out the "espoused values", often nicely crafted ideals. The problem is that the "real culture" might be very different from either the assumed or the espoused culture. The problem gets compounded when you consider several levels, functions, businesses/divisions, locations, etc. in your organization. At each level or function, for example, the real culture may be quite different from what the leadership thought it to be. For instance, its not uncommon to find various locations displaying widely varying cultural norms, driven by their own business heads or as a result of local challenges.

If you consider that culture enables smooth execution of a chosen strategy, it is not difficult to appreciate that lack of a clear understanding of "real culture" can lead to uneven results, disappointments, and missed opportunities. Sometimes aspirations just don't get converted into results.

Culture Assessment helps you understand what the real culture is, in your organization? And further, how does it vary across levels, functions, businesses/divisions, locations, etc.? It gives you a clear and a common framework to work upon. It is generally a quantitative exercise, supplemented with qualitative insights, and thus a common set of facts can be debated throughout the organization vis-a-vis the "desired culture." One big advantage is that availability of facts/data raises the level of debate and sidesteps skepticism that hunches often breed. Another huge benefit is that the whole organization gets engaged in debating culture instead of just a few senior people. The best organizations in the world, therefore, give culture and its assessment a huge priority. Ignoring it or postponing it may not be a worthy path.



How is it carried out?

Broadly, there are three steps:

Step 1

Understanding the business problem, from the CEO's and the senior leaderships' perspective is important. As they reflect on the recent performance issues as well the business challenges on the horizon, it is often intuitively clear to them that culture is an issue, but no one can quite put their hand on the exact issue. On the other hand, if there is an ambitious plan for the future, there could be a feeling deep inside that present culture might not be able to take the organization into the future. 

It is followed by a qualitative study of actual performance over past 3-5 years along with the supporting data (e.g. goals set vs. actual performance, market share, pricing power and quality, etc.), surveys conducted (e.g., employee engagement. customer satisfaction, etc.), public commitments (e.g. annual report), and any other internal notes/documents besides mission, values, and any other culture related documents. This is to establish the "business problem" in a holistic manner.

Step 2

Carry out a survey whose results are quantitative. You can opt for slices of data, such as by levels, functions, or locations. Usually, everyone in the supervisory layer and above participate.

Step 3

The results of Step 2 are verified through quick qualitative on-site checks (e.g. discussion with employee groups and on-site experience checks) which also gives in-depth insights into the key survey findings. All these and Step 1 insights are integrated into a detailed culture assessment document.

If you are going ahead with a JV/a merger/an acquisition, you may like to consider the above exercise not only for your own organization but for the partner-organization as well. It will pave way for smooth integration of the two entities, each admittedly having their own history and culture. Thus surprises can be avoided and investments protected.

Survey Methodologies

One survey methodology we often use is called "OCAI" (Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument). Its a highly validated methodology and has been used by over 10,000 organizations worldwide. In India, we offer it through Netherlands based "OCAI Online." Its an easy to administer online survey. You can get a special price through Right Culture. We will help you interpret the scores as well as integrate the qualitative study, in order to get to a comprehensive culture assessment.

Another one is called DOCS (Denison Organizational Culture Survey) which is offered by Denison USA. We can get you pricing and other details, as required, and coordinate the on-ground implementation.

Both are amongst the best globally.

In both the cases, normally survey is administered to supervisory layer and above. Workmen category is advisable to be covered through small-group (discussion-based) sessions due to reasons of cost/complexity. Cost also often depends upon the data slices you need.

Useful Links

Introduction to OCAI

Link to OCAI Online

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