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The Dexterity of the Competing Values Framework (CVF): Organizational Design, Leadership, Culture, & More

The Competing Values Framework (CVF), developed by Robert Quinn and Jon Rohrbaugh in the 1980s, is a management theory that was developed initially from research done on the major indicators of effective organizational performance. Based on statistical analyses of a comprehensive list of effectiveness indicators, Quinn and Rohrbaugh discovered 2 major dimensions underlying conceptions of effectiveness, focused on:

  1. Organizational focus
  2. Organizational preference for structure

Together, the 2 dimensions form 4 quadrants, with each quadrant unique and defining sets of values and implications.

This model has been found useful for organizing and understanding a variety of topics related to Organizational Design, and extending beyond, including Leadership Development and Organizational Culture. Here is a broad list of topics where we can apply CVF:

  • Organizational Design
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Leadership Competencies
  • Organizational Culture
  • Stages of Life Cycle Development
  • Organizational Quality
  • Leadership Roles
  • Financial Strategy
  • Information Processing
  • Brain Functioning

Below is a diagram capturing the essence of this framework:

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into each of the quadrants.

Collaborate – Human Relations Model

The top-left quadrant places a lot of emphasis on flexibility and internal focus. It stresses cohesion, morale, and human resources development as criteria for effectiveness.

General competences and attributes for organizations in this quadrant include teamwork, collaboration, talent management, empowerment, or inter-personal relationships.  Key value drivers include commitment, communication, and development.

Leaders fitting this collaborative orientation tend to fit the profile of facilitators, mentors, and team builders.  Facilitators tend to manage conflict well, using participative decision making.

Create – Open System Model

The top-right quadrant emphasizes flexibility and external focus, and stresses readiness, growth, resource acquisition, and external support. Tools and techniques, including innovation, creativity, articulating future vision, transformation change, or entrepreneurship, are highlighted here.

Control – Internal Process Model

The bottom-left quadrant emphasizes control and an internal focus; and stresses the role of information management, communication, stability, and control. Tools and techniques, including assessing and measuring, controlling processes, structuring, efficiency improvement, or quality enhancement, are highlighted here.

Compete – Rational Goal Model

The final quadrant emphasizes control and an external focus. It regards planning, goal setting, productivity, and efficiency as being effective. Tools and techniques, including competitiveness, fast response, decisiveness, driving through barriers, or goal achievement, are highlighted here.

Interested in gaining more understanding of CVF?  You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the Competing Values Framework (CVF) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About David Tang

David Tang is an entrepreneur and management consultant. His current focus is Flevy, the marketplace for business best practices (e.g. frameworks & methodologies, presentation templates, financial models). Prior to Flevy, David worked as a management consultant for 8 years. His consulting experience spans corporate strategy, marketing, operations, change management, and IT; both domestic and international (EMEA + APAC). Industries served include Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Consumer Products/Retail, High-Tech, Life Sciences, and Business Services. You can connect with David here on LinkedIn.

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