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Deal and Kennedy's cultural model

 

Explanations > Culture > Deal and Kennedy's cultural model

Feedback | Risk | The four cultures | So what?

 

Deal and Kennedy's model of culture is based on characterizing different four types of organization, based on how quickly they receive feedback and reward after they have done something and the level of risks that they take.

Feedback and reward

A major driver of people in companies and hence their culture is the general feedback and specific rewards that tell them they are doing a good or bad job.

If this feedback is immediate or shorter-term, it will quickly correct any ineffective behavior and hence lead to a consistent culture (those who cannot survive will quickly find out and either leave or be sacked).

If the feedback takes longer to arrive, then can leave mistakes uncorrected, but it also lets people look further out into the future. Either way, there is likely to be some substitute activity (such as process management) to help keep things on track until actual results are known.

Risk

Uncertainty and risk are something that some people hate and some people thrive on. In either case, it is another motivating force that leads people to focus on managing it.

Where the risk is low, people may be willing to take risks up to their acceptable limit. Where they are high, the risks need to be managed or accepted. High risk companies are more likely to include people who enjoy the frisson of taking a gamble.

 

 

 

Risk

Low High
Feedback and reward Rapid  

Work-hard,
play-hard
 culture

 

Tough-guy macho
culture

Slow  

Process
 culture
 

 

Bet-the-
company
culture
 

 

The four cultures

Work-hard, play-hard culture

This has rapid feedback/reward and low risk, leading to:

  • Stress coming from quantity of work rather than uncertainty.
  • High-speed action leading to high-speed recreation.
  • Eg. Restaurants, software companies.

Tough-guy macho culture

This has rapid feedback/reward and high risk, leading to:

  • Stress coming from high risk and potential loss/gain of reward.
  • Focus on the present rather than the longer-term future.
  • Eg. police, surgeons, sports.

Process culture

This has slow feedback/reward and low risk, leading to:

  • Low stress, plodding work, comfort and security. Stress may come from internal politics and stupidity of the system.
  • Development of bureaucracies and other ways of maintaining the status quo.
  • Focus on security of the past and of the future.
  • Eg. banks, insurance companies.

Bet-the-company culture

This has slow feedback/reward and high risk, leading to:

  • Stress coming from high risk and delay before knowing if actions have paid off.
  • The long view is taken, but then much work is put into making sure things happen as planned.
  • Eg. aircraft manufacturers, oil companies.

So what?

So if you are influencing into an organization, find out what style it has and adjust your approach accordingly. If you are a member of the organization, you may understand why you are either right at home or way out of place.

See also

Culture Books


Buy Me

 Terrence E. Deal, Allan A. Kennedy, Corporate Cultures, Perseus, 2000

  A useful book on organizational culture, including Deal and Kennedy's famous sociability/solidarity model. Good linkage to general cultural aspects of tribes, heroes and rites and rituals. Originally published in 1982.

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