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Cultural Web Model

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Organizational Culture Assessment & Questionnaire (57-slide PowerPoint presentation). In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, an Organizational Culture Assessment is an indispensable tool for visionary leaders. It offers a strategic lens to decode the complex tapestry of workplace dynamics, unveiling not only the vivid patterns of strengths but also the subtle undercurrents [read more]

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Organizations that do not define an organizational culture leave the door open for the culture to define itself—which is often fraught with dissatisfaction, toxicity, and misalignment.

Corporate Culture, Organizational Culture, or Workplace Culture all share the same meaning.  The term represents the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors that describe an organization and its employees.  It is exhibited by the environment of an organization through the working relationships between the leadership, management, workforce, and customers.

Corporate culture is often shaped by the organization’s mission, vision, and values, as well as by the personalities and characteristics of its leadership and employees.  Corporate culture has a significant bearing on an organization’s performance, its ability to attract and retain talent, to innovate, and to compete in the market.  Organizations with a positive corporate culture have more engaged, committed, and motivated employees.  On the contrary, organizations with a weak or toxic organizational culture tend to have unproductive, disengaged, and disgruntled employees.

Improving the organizational culture leverages several benefits, including high staff retention rates, ease of hiring the right people, positive work atmosphere, and improved performance and bottom line.

The Cultural Web Model, developed by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes in the 1990s, is a framework used to analyze and understand an enterprise’s organizational culture.  The model assists in managing or changing the organizational culture to align with strategic objectives or to address cultural issues impeding progress.

The model helps individuals and organizations identify the underlying beliefs, values, and assumptions that shape how people behave and interact within a company.  The framework is a strategic tool for both diagnosing an organization’s culture and planning interventions to create a desired cultural shift.

The framework identifies 6 interconnected components that comprise a workplace paradigm.  A thorough evaluation of these components assists in understanding the bigger picture of an organizational culture:

  1. Stories
  2. Rituals and Routines
  3. Symbols
  4. Organizational Structures
  5. Control Systems
  6. Power Structures

Let’s dive deeper into the first 3 components of the model, for now.

Component 1: Stories

Consider this component to be the organization’s collective memory.  Stories reveal a great deal about what an organization values.  The component may encompass an account of the organization’s history, its current status, the achievements of its key personnel, and employee testimonials regarding their experiences at the company.

Such narratives and stories frequently shed light on the fundamental principles upheld by an organization as well as the actions that are deemed commendable at the workplace.

Component 2: Ritual and Routines

This component refers to regular and repetitive actions and behaviors which are permissible and valued within the organization.  Routines may also be interpreted as expectations from the employees, encompassing aspects such as their daily arrival and departure as well as the nature of activities that transpire during the course of the day.

Through a variety of recurring circumstances, people gain an understanding of expected conduct and what is considered standard behavior at their workplace.  It is debatable whether or not such action is constructive, but it has become the norm within the organization’s culture.

Component 3: Symbols

The next component involves visual cues that convey the organization’s identity and values.  This involves graphical depictions of the organization, encompassing elements such as logos, office ambiance, and dress codes (official or informal).  These visual representations carry immense cultural significance for the organization, customers, and people.

A company’s visual communication, branding, and industry-specific jargon signify this element.  This component entails the image that comes to the employees and customers’ minds when they envision the organization.

Interested in learning more about the other components of the Cultural Web Model? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Cultural Web Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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8-page Word document
Each organization has its own culture -- the beliefs and norms of behavior that guide individual actions and decisions. These define what is expected from the members of the organization in order to "fit in." To under your organization's corporate culture, we can leverage an organizational [read more]

Want to Achieve Excellence in Organizational Culture (OC)?

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Organizational Culture, also referred to as Corporate Culture or Company Culture, is the set of underlying and shared beliefs, vision, assumptions, values, habits, business philosophies, and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of the organization.

Organizational Culture permeates the organization, affecting all functions and all levels. It starts with what employees do and how they do it—and ultimately drives why employees do what they do. Culture is like the DNA of the organization.

That is why a healthy Company Culture leads to strong Performance, Growth, and Excellence—and the opposite is also true. For any initiative to be successful, we need a Corporate Culture that inherently supports that initiative.

Learn about our Organizational Culture (OC) Best Practice Frameworks here.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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