The Real Definition of Organizational Culture

By Sean Abbas on June 11, 2013

Researchers study organizational culture from the safety of academia.  They tell us that we need to classify our cultures into one of “four different types”, learn the “dimensions of culture” or guide or organizations through a “five stage evolution.”  What does it all mean Basil?  Threads has the answer.


Yes, It’s That Simple.

There is a lot of hard work that goes in to building a great organizational culture, but it turns out that culture is easy to define and graph. Organizational culture is the combination of the group’s core values and every individual’s results. No five stages.  No ten levels.  Only one graph.


The Y-Axis:  Core Values

Your core values represent the “How” part of your organizational culture.  They are the guiding ideas behind your culture that unite every individual and determine how your organization works.  Your core values are:

  • Unique to your Organization.  Core values come from inside.  They should be communicated with stories and language that the people in your organization understand.
  • Apply to Everyone.  Your job title doesn’t matter when it comes to core values.  Everyone from the CEO to the newest hourly employee should be doing their job with the core values in mind.

The X-Axis:  Individual Results

Individual results represent each person’s contribution to the goals of your organization.  Every individual makes a contribution to organizational culture by what they produce.  This contribution is measured by how successful they are with the responsibilities and objectives outlined in their job description.


The Points on the Graph:  Each Person In Your Organization

An organization is a group of individuals.  To measure the culture of an organization you need to measure each individual person’s contribution to the organizational culture.  For each person ask yourself if they are:

  1. Living the core values of the organization?
  2. Producing the results required by their specific job description?

The people that do both well are contributing to your organizational culture.  The people that only do one or neither are damaging your organizational culture.


100% of the Time It Works Every Time

This makes sense, but how do I know that this definition of organizational culture works better than everything else?  Don’t just trust us.  The only way to confirm the Threads definition of organizational culture is to apply it to the real world.

Think about your current organization or team.  What is the strength of your organization’s culture?  Is it Weak, Intermediate, Advanced or Elite?    Write down the answer.  You know it even if you don’t know why.

Now think about the individuals of this organization or team.  Plot the organization’s individual members on the Threads Organizational Culture Graph below.  The Threads definition of organizational culture will match with your initial answer every time:

The Strength of Your Organizational Culture

  • Elite Organizational Cultures.  Almost every individual in the green box making a positive contribution to organizational culture and a large number of leaders in the upper right corner of the green box.
  • Advanced Organizational Cultures.  A large majority of people are in the green box with a few stragglers in the yellow boxes.  Most people are making a positive contribution to organizational culture.  Some individuals are damaging the culture of the organization, but not attracting a large following.
  • Intermediate Organizational Cultures.  A majority of people are in the green box, but a percentage of people are in the yellow and red boxes.  The people in the yellow and red boxes are beginning to develop a following in the organization.
  • Weak Organizational Cultures.  A percentage of individuals are in every box causing confusion in the core values and goals of the organizational culture.

Why Are We Still Talking?

So we know that The Best Culture Wins and now we have the map to guide us towards building a great culture.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get started! 

We guarantee that improving your organizational culture will increase efficiency and produce large financial rewards for your organization.  But that’s not all.  We also guarantee that as a leader you will discover things of much greater value along the journey.