Blog Posts Process Analysis

Organisational Culture Inventory

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown


  • A technique developed and marketed by Human Synergistics International (HSI), which assists in identifying the current and desired future thinking patterns of the organisation. The technique is a structured way of  analysing how people describe both the current behavior of the organisation and the preferred, future behavior of the organisation.
  • The gap between the current and future thinking patterns provide a clear focus for the cultural change that the organisation will need to undergo, and assists in identifying the challenges associated with implementing the Shared Values and Guiding Principles. It subsequently helps the joint project team in the development and fine-tuning of project management, organisational change and human resource deliverables.

When to use

  • The Organisational Culture Inventory (OCI) can be used in developing the Shared Values and Guiding Principles.
  • The OCI provides a very effective way of identifying some of the underlying thinking patterns that help to clarify whether or not the currently agreed shared values are actually shared in reality.  For instance, many organisations that are publicly committed to customer service have thinking and behavior patterns that are defensive and task-oriented, with little actual thought given to the best way of managing relationships with people.
  • The OCI sharpens the project team’s focus upon these kinds of inconsistencies, which are often at the core of the organisation’s poor performance. It is important that these inconsistencies are identified early in the BPI initiative, and that a strategy is developed for ensuring that the Shared Values and Guiding Principles for the future of the organisation will not be undermined by similar inconsistencies in the future.


The use of an OCI needs to be carefully framed in the context of the overall BPI initiative. It is important that the OCI is supplemented with other data collection processes such as:
  • Interviews with the leadership team and a sample of opinion leaders.
  • An analysis of reports and surveys relating to cultural change during the previous two to five years.
  • Interactive processes such as focus groups, where more experiential group processes can be used to explore the critical cultural change issues.
Once this context is clearly established there are typical steps for using an OCI.
  1. Introduce the project team and the project sponsors to the OCI, explaining its conceptual underpinning and language, and how it will assist the overall BPI initiative, particularly during the process of developing the Shared Values and Guiding Principles.
  2. Select a representative sample of employees for surveying purposes.
  3. Conduct the survey.
  4. Develop a report on the findings.
  5. Feedback the results to relevant sponsors.
Provide employees who participated in the survey with a clearly written summary of the results of the OCI, and the opportunity to respond to any of the subsequent findings.



  • Some people are resistant to the OCI and may express this by engaging in lengthy debate about its validity. They can sometimes be hard to convince, and time spent trying to do so can be wasted.  Encourage the participants to complete the OCI first, and then facilitate discussion about the issues that emerged from completing it afterwards. In most cases, people become supportive of the use of the OCI as a result of using this strategy, because it allows them to talk about issues such as conflict avoidance, relationship management, aggression, competitiveness and defensiveness, which they may feel are at the bottom of the organisation’s difficulties.
  • Since OCI is based on some assumptions about the most effective thinking patterns for maximum organisational performance, attempt to fully understand these assumptions and believe that they are appropriate for the organisations situation. If this is not the case, tailor the use of the OCI, so that it better responds to the reality of the client. Ensure that recently accredited OCI users seek advice from the vendor or from more experienced, accredited OCI users on the best way to tailor the OCI.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Get the leadership team and the internal change agents to complete the OCI first. In most cases, they identify similar organisational thinking profiles to those later identified by employees. This often leads into useful discussion about their views about the underlying values, beliefs and assumptions that are holding the organization back. It may also help them clarify what current underlying values, beliefs and assumptions are very positive, and will stand the organization in good stead in the future.
  • Some organisations become very attracted to the diagnostics and want to conduct large-scale surveys with them. These can be costly, are slow to generate results and can be logistically complex.  If the organisation is committed about going ahead with such an approach, ensure that there are mechanisms in place to manage communications, to manage the project within tight time and budget parameters, and to keep key opinion leaders on side.
  • It is imperative that people are appropriately trained and accredited before they use the OCI. Contact the local/ national office of Human Synergistics International for details.


  • There are a number of related tools that address individual, and group- or team-level thinking patterns. These also require that strict training and accreditation guidelines be met. This was the preferred tool used by KPMG when I was working with them as Business Performance Consultant.

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