Measuring the Corporate Genome


I regularly run workshops around designing, refining and understanding measures.  Through these, I meet   organisations which  encompass the whole spectrum;  ranging from those which are strongly values led, they tend to drive a positive culture,  to organisations that are more scattered, trying to meet numerous targets, often with variable success. These differences demonstrate how vital it is that an organisation’s measures are right.

There are two clear equations at play when aligning measures and culture, but it doesn’t matter where an organisation starts from; it’s still straightforward to get to the best end result.

Strong Culture, Shared Measures

Firstly, every organisation has a culture. Those with very strong, values driven cultures tend to be very good organisations to work in and to have as clients, as they instinctively know when something does or doesn’t work, and will look to resolve it quickly.  However, I have seen some of these take on measures which work against the culture.  This usually results in the following: some   in the organisation will very quickly figure out how to game the system, this happens because their focus tends to be on excellence, so scoring high will be embedded in the psyche, and as they are focussed on delivering this, they will do so, usually within the rules, but possibly outside the spirit that was intended.  Those who are possibly less competitive, but just as focussed on the strong positive values of the organisation are likely to become confused and discouraged. Neither is a good situation.  It’s a winners and losers situation and that is never good.

What is crucial when developing measures in such an organisation is for them to be absolutely focussed on the desired end result for the team, customers and other stakeholders and shared, just like the values.  This means net promoter scores or pure customer satisfaction scores are unlikely to be suitable, as these are several degrees of separation from the goals (and almost certainly from the values of the organisation). What is needed is a measure of the culture, the sort of areas which might be measured are levels of integrity – that is doing what you say you are going to do, trust and confidence in the service, product or outcomes.  These then work with the shared values and drive them together towards excellence, something which the people working there will be striving to achieve each day.  This is their DNA and will allow them to use the right maps, which in turn will help them get to where they want to be in great shape and possibly more quickly.

Fuzzy Culture, Shared Measures

The situation when working in or with an organisation with a fuzzy culture is very different from one where people are driven by the same values.  Fuzzy cultures tend to have evolved, or have had values added to them which don’t quite work for the people and the work they undertake.  These are the organisations which can really benefit from the right shared measures, but will also be knocked out of shape, probably painfully by using the wrong ones.  In The National Health Service they use the “friends and family measure” which asks “would you recommend this service to friends and family?”  This is a completely unsuitable measure, as who actually wants to be recommending using A&E for example, to anyone, as we would rather everyone stays well?  The results are then used to produce league tables, and grades.  Given the role the health service fulfils, a better measure would be around trust and the level of confidence people feel about the care they have received.

I don’t work in the NHS, but my understanding of it, based on numerous conversations with those who do, is, that it would be considered to have a fuzzy culture.  The right measures could make a vast amount of difference, because those working there would feel that they were being measured on their skills rather than against some hypothetical question. These fuzzy culture organisations need to use measures, such as resilience, trust and confidence to drive the same behaviours throughout their teams, and in doing so would find they have generated a culture, by default one which works well for everyone.   Once embedded, the right measures will act as a map, which if followed for long enough will generate the DNA of the organisation.

It’s Good to Talk

We are experts in designing measures which work with and enhance the culture of the organisation, whether it is a values led one or more fuzzy.  Measuring culture is very straightforward, gives better results and generates far greater insight. If that is the sort of thing you need for your organisation do give us a call on 01276 477445 or drop me an email on