The Denison Organizational Culture Survey has 50 questions and covers four many areas: Adaptability, Mission, Involvement and Consistency. Outputs are presented as a wheel showing relative cultural strengths and weaknesses.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The Denison Organizational Culture Survey

The Denison organizational culture survey is a 50 question employee survey. It covers four core cultural areas: Adaptability, Mission, Involvement and Consistency. The survey breaks these four areas down into 3 sub-categories, giving a total of 12 areas of cultural assessment. At the heart of the model or survey are the organizations beliefs and assumptions.

The output of the survey is provided in the form of a wheel, or radial diagram. Organizations can use their results to shape future change initiatives.

A bicycle with wheels like watermellons, representing the wheels used in The Denison Organizational Culture Survey
We’re not sure any culture wheel could be as cool as a watermelon wheel!

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The different types of cultures that emerge in organizations shape what those organizations are like to work for. For example, is there a culture of fearless feedback? Or do tall poppies get chopped down?

Culture significantly shapes employee experience and, consequently, employee engagement in organizations.

While changing culture isn’t easy (see the organizational culture triangle), leaders and managers should at least have an understanding of their team’s culture. Understanding different different culture models helps with this. Leaders and managers can also complete an Organizational Culture Assessment Questionnaire to better understand their teams.

You might also enjoy our podcast on organizational cultures with guest Darren Murriner, author of Corporate Bravery:

The World of Work Project View

The Denison Organizational Culture Survey looks reasonable, but we’ve never used it in a work environment. As a result, we can only comment on it in a limited fashion.

Overall its four high level areas of focus appear reasonable, as do the dimensions of internal and external focus and flexibility and stability. We think, however, that the version of the model that we’ve seen is somewhat limited in what it covers. Additional areas such as hierarchical power, fear, trust, wellbeing and mental health, change readiness and recognition may all shed further light on an organization. Of course they may be covered further in this framework in ways that we’ve not seen.

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This post is based on original content as created by Dr Daniel Denison, currently at the International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland. You can learn more about the model and approach from the Denison Consulting website.

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