Culture: Consistency Summary

by Ron Potter


Image result for Image of give me a lever long enough

The last quadrant of the Denison Culture survey is Consistency, “Does your system create leverage?”

We first introduced the mechanical image of leverage when we introduced the “fulcrum” of Consistency.  Most people have seen or heard the quote from Archimedes when he said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”  As a side note, he also said “Eureka!” which meant “I’ve got it” or “I’ve found it.”  Leverage is what he found.

In the post about Coordination and Integration we talked about the lever and how that looks different in each part of the organization.

Together these two create “Leverage!”

The three sections of the Consistency Quadrant talk about achieving leverage.

Consistency is about Results

Dan Denison and his team at Denison Consulting may disagree with me, but in my mind, this quadrant is about results.

My belief is that if you’ve worked hard at each of the other three quadrants of Mission, Adaptability and Involvement, the results are great Consistency.

Take a look at some of the words within the individual questions related to each of the three segments:

  • practice what they preach
  • a distinct set of practices
  • a clear and consistent set of values
  • accountability
  • win-win solutions
  • we reach agreement, even on difficult issues
  • clear agreement about the right way
  • share common perspectives
  • coordinate across the organization
  • good alignment

These issues are results.  The organization has and develops leverage.  It creates a highly productive culture.

  • Should you set and live by a clear set of core values?  Yes.
  • Should you work hard at reaching agreement across the organization?  Yes.
  • Should you coordinate and integrate across and between divisions of the organization?  Yes.

But, if you try to accomplish these things without first establishing Mission, Adaptability and Involvement, they won’t amount to much.  There is no foundational work.  The structure will crumble without the needed foundation.

What is Culture?

We introduced the Culture Series many months ago with this start:

A dictionary definition says “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an organization.”

Exciting environments come from leaders and teams developing people to face difficulties and obstacles in innovative thoughtful ways that utilize the skills and experiences present.

Productive environments exist when teams learn how to elegantly use the resources they have to get the most out of an organization in a simple way.

Why Build a Great Culture?

I’ll go back to the name of my company, Team Leadership Culture (TLC).  These are not distinct issues that you face and corrected one at a time.  Great companies and great leaders are always working on all of these issues.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see leaders make is to assume they’re high-level managers.  One of the more difficult transitions is to shift from being a great manager to a great leader.

Great Managers
  • Work in relatively stable environments
  • Have long-term views and line-of-sight
  • Usually have clearly defined direction and strategy
  • And because of these issues, have a limited need to re-direct themselves or those who work for them.
Great Leaders
  • Spend the bulk of their time on vision
  • Develop and lead teams that manage more of the detail
  • Constantly scan the environment both internally and externally to spot the need for change early
  • Tend to be more risk-takers and have a higher tolerance for risk.

Great leaders and leadership teams create great cultures.  Cultures outlast leaders and teams.  This applies to both good and bad cultures.  Make sure you and your team are focused on a great culture.  It’s the only thing that lasts.

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