in your business to make the biggest difference to achieving your organisational goals? Great question hey?

Today I attended a terrific Corporate Culture Roundtable led by Carolyn Taylor, founder of the Walking the Talk methodology and including three of the Walking the Talk accredited practitioners. Walking the Talk is an interesting methodology in that takes the theoretical concepts of organisational culture (for example Schein, Quinn & Rohrbaugh, Cameron and Quinn) and translates into a rigorous and practical methodology for changing corporate culture (hence, “walking” the talk).

Quinn and Roehbaugh developed the Competing Values Framework,  which measures an organisation’s effectiveness as defined by the values that are privileged, and therefore the dominant culture.

The values measured in the diagnostic include:

  • Flexibility v control
  • Internal v external focus
  • Adaptability & readiness v stability
  • Growth, acquisition, resource support v information management
  • Productivity & efficiency  v cohesion and morale
  • Goal setting and planning v human resources and training

In Cameron and Quinn’s later book on changing an organisational culture, four archetypes are produced based on the CVF diagnostic and can be used to describe organisations. The four cultural archetypes are:

  • Clan – people focused, employee relations
  • Adhocracy – innovation & entrepreneurship
  • Market – competitive, customer centric
  • Hierarchy – Bureaucratic, process driven

Taylor in her book “Walking the Talk” provides six archetypes to consider in measuring movement from an existing culture to a preferred culture.

  • Achievement
  • Customer centric
  • One team
  • Innovation
  • People first
  • Greater good.

I was particularly cheered to see the Greater Good cultural archetype emerge. Having earlier done work with organisational culture researcher Associate Professor Cameron Newton within The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies we had observed that nonprofits do not always fit the CVF well, and we had started working on instruments that recognised the value sets that are manifested in the Greater Good culture.

I think the most inspiring or exciting aspect of this morning’s workshop was hearing the Walk the Talk practitioners discuss culture change differently to how I have heard it discussed over many years. There tends to be an assumption that organisations can or should shift from one culture to another with little consideration of the implications for subcultures within, or the blunt force required to enforce a new culture. Today I heard a more tempered discussion about bolstering elements of the preferred cultural mix, the importance of honouring the legacy of past cultural foundations, and the need for aligning with strategy and focusing on the one behaviour that will most represent the culture that will drive performance of the strategy.  It was a more nuanced discussion and one that provides confidence in the Walk the Talk practitioners.

A very big thank you to one of the Walking the Talk practitioners Grant Downie of Dynamic Strategies for the invitation to attend and your continued investment in the change management community.

So thinking about your organisation – what one behaviour could be changed that would make the biggest difference to achieving your organisation’s goals?


Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply