Assessing and Defining your OC

What’s your OC (organizational culture)? Do your employees, leaders, customers and others define it the same way? You can’t begin to leverage your OC until you actually know what it is, what you want it to be and how to fill any gaps. Defining your OC is the first step to leveraging it as a competitive advantage.

Your OC is unique to your organization and should be a reflection of your organization’s true DNA. When captured and leveraged through commitment from your leadership and integration into your strategy, your OC can provide your organization with a decisive competitive advantage. But before it can be leveraged to achieve your strategy, you have to understand and identify it.

This is where your journey begins – identifying and creating your unique OC, helping others embrace it and committing to live by it to help your organization succeed. By using our proven methodology, you can shape your OC and position your organization to win in the marketplace.

There are five critical steps to assessing, identifying and committing to your OC:

  1. Defining the purpose of your organization
  2. Identifying the non-negotiable values that drive your decisions
  3. Articulating the philosophies that define how those values are brought to life through everyday decisions
  4. Evaluate the alignment of your organization’s actions to your OC. In other words, do the actions of your leadership (who you hire, what you reward and who you fire) match your values and philosophies?
  5. Measuring how well your organization is living your OC

Success Is Driven by Alignment of Leadership, Strategy and OC


OC Alignment - Leadership Strategy and Culture

To leverage OC as a competitive advantage, three components must be coordinated:

  1. Leadership – to articulate an inspiring vision and set the direction of the organization
  2. Strategy – Establishing the mission & vision. Conducting a SWOT analysis, and developing a business strategy with action plans & objectives
  3. OC – the distinctive characteristics of how things are done that support and fulfill the 6 employee needs

Assessing and defining your current OC takes diligence and patience and must include an intentional process to dig into how OC is defined at ALL levels of the organization – not just how top leaders think it’s defined or hope it’s defined.

Assessment Process Options

There are several options that can be employed to define your current OC. You should choose the one that best fits your organization. Options include:

  • Option 1 – Conduct an OC Assessment – this process includes conducting an OC assessment through personal face-to-face interviews with selected employees at all levels of the organization or focus groups using open ended questions that get to the heart of how things get done “around here”.  Follow up with closed ended questions and surveys with all employees to validate the initial responses and then facilitate a session with leadership team members to review the feedback and decide on the current OC.
  • Option 2 – Facilitate an  OC Workshop – Conduct an OC workshop with top leadership to identify their perceptions of the OC followed by closed ended surveys with all employees. Conduct a follow-up session with leadership to review responses and determine the current OC.
  • Option 3 – Conduct a Combination Workshop/Facilitated Meeting – Conduct an OC workshop with top leadership to identify their perceptions of the OC followed by a facilitated open session with all employees to discuss, identify and alter confirmed feedback.
  • Option 4 – Facilitate an All Employee Workshop – Conduct an OC workshop with all employees to gather feedback about the current OC.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

No matter which option you choose, asking the right probing questions and breaking down barriers during the assessment is the key to getting the open, honest feedback needed to identify the established OC. These questions may include:

  • How would you describe __________________ organization?
  • What is the purpose of ___________________ organization?
  • How is the work you do important – both internally and externally?
  • How does your organization make a difference in the world around you?
  • How does the work you do contribute to society as a whole?
  • Name or list the organization’s values? (In other words, what factors does your organization value enough to hire for, what gets rewarded, and what actions or behaviors get someone fired?
  • What makes ___________________________ organization stand out from its competitors?
  • Describe how things get done around here – in other words what is the character or personality of _______________ organization?
  • What one aspect of your OC contributes to its business success?
  • How do employees know what’s expected of them?
  • Do the actions rewarded by _________________ organization support or detract from the stated values and philosophies?


Conducting an OC assessment is the first step on the journey to leveraging your OC as a competitive advantage. Once your OC is assessed, you can compare where your OC is vs. where it should be to ignite employee engagement and performance.  But prepare yourself for the fact that different levels of the organization will likely define your OC differently and those gaps will have to be addressed accordingly before actin plans can be introduced to align the OC throughout the organization and enhance performance