Business Identification

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The Competing Values Framework is a tool that identifies the critical organizational behaviors that create business value. It identifies the organizational traits that have a dominant strength in one of four domains, representing business archetypes that are based on the strategic emphasis and success criteria within an organization.

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Competing Values Framework


Organizational Design

The Competing Values Assessment identifies business values based on the perceptions of survey respondents from within the organization.

The framework posits that there are four fundamental business archetypes, with each archetype uniquely supplying differing results.

The first archetype represents organizations (known as COMPETE organizations) that are designed to quickly respond to business opportunities and thrive on competitiveness while energizing employees. The high-pressure that they thrive supports their value drivers of market share, goal achievement, and profitability as being the single most critical factors in their existence.

The second archetype, (known as COLLABORATE organizations) is much more focused on fostering commitment, managing the development of individuals, ensuring business cohesion, and sustainability. They’re avid listeners, slow and cautious in the marketplace, yet highly sensitive to user interests.

The third archetype, (known as CONTROL organizations) is typically large in size and relies on scalable features to drive profit. These companies are risk averse, driven towards incrementally improving processes, increasing productivity, emphasizing efficiency, and love predictability and replicability. Their leaders are good coordinators, monitors, and organizers. They’re highly stable organizations and pride themselves on order and control.

Contrast this to the fourth archetype (known as CREATE organizations), in which creativity, vision, and differentiation are the key drivers. These are highly innovative and creative companies that entrepreneurial in character. They offer excitement and vision for the future and typically are the ones who bring disruptive innovations into the marketplace.

While every organization has a degree of all four archetypes in their makeup, at the heart of each, there is always one dominant logic that prevails. When budget time comes, the money and leadership emphasis is predictably driven towards either improving operational efficiency (Control), market differentiation (Create), customer advocacy (Collaborate), or market position (Compete). There is simply not enough time, talent, and money to suffice all four with equal enthusiasm.

CVF business archetype attributes include:

Collaborate – Archetype characteristics:

  • Value Drivers:
    Commitment, development, communication
  • Strategic Effectiveness:
    Human development and participation produce effectiveness. Long-term development.
  • Quality Strategies:
    Empowerment, team building, employee involvement, HR development, and open communication
  • Leader Type:
    Facilitator, mentor, team builder
  • Management Competencies:
    Managing teams, managing interpersonal relationships, and managing the development of others

Compete – Archetype characteristics:

  • Value Drivers:
    Market share, goal achievement, and profitability. Short-term performance is a critical focus.
  • Strategic Effectiveness:
    Aggressive competition and customer focus produce effectiveness
  • Quality Strategies:
    Measuring customer preference, improving productivity, creating external partnerships, enhancing competitiveness, and involving customers & suppliers in the quest to streamline efficiencies.
  • Leader Type:
    Hard-driver, producer, competitor
  • Management Competencies:
    Managing competitiveness, energizing employees, and managing customer service.

Control – Archetype characteristics:

  • Value Drivers
    Efficiency, Timeliness, consistency, and uniformity. Incremental growth and improvement are critical.
  • Strategic Effectiveness:
    Control and efficiency with capable processes are fundamental in producing effectiveness
  • Quality Strategies:
    Error detection, measurement, process control, systematic problem solving
  • Leader Type:
    Coordinator, monitor, and organizer
  • Management Competencies:
    Managing assimilation, managing the control system, managing coordination

Create – Archetype characteristics:

  • Value Drivers:
    Innovative outputs, transformation, and agility offer breakthrough approaches
  • Strategic Effectiveness:
    Innovativeness, new resources and vision produce effectiveness
  • Quality Strategies:
    Surprise and delight, creating new standards, anticipating needs, finding creative solutions and problem solving
  • Leader Type:
    Innovator, Visionary, Entrepreneur
  • Management Competencies:
    Managing innovation, managing the future, and managing continuous improvement

The values that any enterprise can offer are seated in the ability to do things right (Control), do them quicker (Compete), do them together (Collaborate), or do them differently (Create). Competing Values offers a language that can voice and unify an organization’s understanding of where they are currently and what it will take to achieve the desired future state.

Common Pitfalls

Organizations may develop a vision of the future but fail to adequately and effectively communicate the behavioral changes necessary to move a culture in the needed direction.

Failure to adequately assess the current and future organizational states, and convey that information in a language that resonates with individuals at a personal level can cause even the best-devised change plan to fail.

Conditions to be mindful of in which understanding organizational archetypes is useful:

  • Inaccurate understanding of current culture – Mapping and identifying the critical behavioral levers across an organizational fabric is essential whenever change is introduced. Identifying within your organization where critical disconnects between strategy intent and implementation exist, is a critical step in organizational change.

  • Poor change communications – Saying the right thing, at the right time, and using the right language is critical when introducing change into an organization. Having a message that is consistently and clearly delivered; one that is steeped in profound simplicity is paramount. The language of Competing Values is scalable for such an endeavor and can help contextualize the change so that people can comprehend what’s being asked of them and articulate what new behaviors are being asked.

  • Unrealistic expectations – Organizations become attuned to producing a specific type of outcome. They hire, integrate, direct, and reward staff as well as create processes and metrics that deliver a specific type of value that, over time, becomes more formal, less flexible, and highly resistant to change. Along with those outputs are paired the minds and attitudes of the workers who support them. Having an expectation of easily changing the underlying behaviors, intent on delivering a wholly different value (as an example, providing the market a radical innovations as opposed to predictable outcomes) is an unrealistic expectation that has damaging implications.