Competing Values: The “Why” Behind the “What and How”

In my current pre-research for eventual dissertation work, I explore the inability of companies to capitalize on analytics capabilities due to a lack of a data-centric culture, and seek to identify a number of key measures for implementing such. This is admittedly an interdisciplinary endeavor. Büschgens, Bausch, & Balkin (2013) focus on the broader organizational culture phenomenon, but their theoretical approach and meta-analysis are relevant. The same principles that foster a successful organizational culture may also be useful for implementing different subcultures or niche cultures that are a part of that broader successful culture.

The authors introduce two important theoretical constructs: Measurement of Behavior and Output (Ouchi, 1979) and the Competing Values Framework (Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1983; Quinn and Spreitzer, 1991). Ouchi’s model, for our purposes, begins with a low ability to measure outputs. Thus, the organizational process is classified on the knowledge of the transformation process. For implementing a data-centric culture, our hope is that stakeholders are closely engaged, but that is not always within control. Even in a worst-case scenario (or, clan control), it is possible to “[align] the individual’s objectives with those of the organization” (Büschgens, Bausch, & Balkin, 2013, p. 766).

The Competing Values Framework is a useful tool for quantifying the specific means and ends each part of an organization most closely identifies with. This is of particular importance when a data-centric culture spans over multiple internal entities. Finance might be more Hierarchal in their approach, but IT may be more Rational. Appealing to why the data-centric culture is important will require different foci for each department based on their plot on the Competing Values Framework. Such is the focus of the meta-analysis. The authors investigate the relationship between innovation and the four major cultural traits, and outline their findings. Of particular interest are (a) those findings on the relationship and (b) the fact that “organizations that create radical innovations do not exhibit different organizational cultures than those that are rather oriented at incremental innovations” (Büschgens, Bausch, & Balkin, 2013, p. 775). This is encouraging, as organizations may sometimes feel overwhelmed or pushed by the need to make great strides in change when in fact the current climate would not support such radical change, and such a speed is accessible and relevant to all the major cultural types.

Those of us in IT would be wise to don a management consulting hat once in a while, seeking to understand our customers and what why drives their daily productivity.


Büschgens, T., Bausch, A., & Balkin, D. B. (2013). Organizational culture and innovation: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30(4), 763–781. doi: 10.1111/jpim.12021.

Ouchi, W. G. (1979). A conceptual framework for the design of organizational control mechanisms. Management Science, 25(9), 833–48.

Quinn, R. E., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1983). A spatial model of effectiveness criteria: Towards a competing values approach to organizational analysis. Management Science, 29(3), 363–77.

Quinn, R. E., & Spreitzer, G. M. (1991). The psychometrics of the competing values culture instrument and an analysis of the impact of organizational culture on quality of life. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 5, 15–42.

This post originally appeared on my LinkedIn page:

Negative Feedback, Effectively


From Harvard Business Review – Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Give

What is clear is the paradox our data reveal, no matter how we slice them. People believe constructive criticism is essential to their career development. They want it from their leaders. But their leaders often don’t feel comfortable offering it up. From this we conclude that the ability to give corrective feedback constructively is one of the critical keys to leadership, an essential skill to boost your team’s performance that could set you apart.

Transformational Leadership

My PhD work at Clemson involved a great deal of organizational theory, and I ran across a quick motivational photo on LinkedIn that reminded me of Bernard Bass’ Transformational Leadership model.

Here’s the image:


Though not verbatim, these 5 characteristics best describe Transformational Leadership (TL).

First, let’s explain what TL is not. It isn’t charismatic leadership – bending the will of your employees or colleagues by sheer force of charm or mesmerizing them. I saw this sort of leadership at play in a former career, where everyone was jumping on the bandwagon to take the FranklinCovey seminars and become masters of their day-planners. It was a charismatic movement. Individuals were trained by the FranklinCovey staff and given a captive audience of colleagues to teach. These trainers became gurus, and inspired their students to become trainers as well. The focus seemed to be more on the process, product sold, and the individual teaching moreso than the content or mastery itself.

So what is Transformational Leadership?

It is based on 4 moral components:

  1. Inspirational motivation
  2. Idealized influence
  3. Individualized consideration
  4. Intellectual stimulation

It is further based on 3 moral aspects:

  1. Moral character
  2. Ethical values
  3. Morality of the process

I remember a quote from a case study: the purpose of the leader is to “enable others to thrive.” Not to cast the spotlight on oneself. The focus is on the process and the goals, getting there as a team, and activating team members’ higher-order needs.