The Competing Values Framework Essay

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The Competing Values Framework
December 9, 2012 by Dallas Shelby Stop me if you’ve heard this before: We’re looking for new ways of doing things. We are a highly collaborative organization. Our work is dictated by process. Our staff is goal-oriented.
We’ve all likely made at least one of these statements, each of which are indicative of an implicit value contained within our organizations’ cultures. The issue, however, is that some of these values are in opposition to each other. So, while we may have said these things, hopefully it was not in the same breath.
Welcome to the world of the Competing Values Framework – a tool that allows organizations to assess their internal culture.
Earlier this year, I led the NAS team through a Competing Values Framework exercise. Each member of the staff filled out a questionnaire that took a snapshot of what they felt were the organization’s current and preferred values and mapped them onto a two-by-two matrix. The four quadrants of the matrix represent each of the “competing values” within an organization. (See the diagram below.) The yellow “collaborate” quadrant represents values like loyalty, communication and human development. This is at odds with the values inherent in the blue “compete” quadrant whose focus is on goal achievement, customer-focus and profitability. The values in the red “control” quadrant emphasize consistency, policies and process. This is in opposition to the green “create” quadrant, which is all about innovation, agility and vision.
An additional take on the tensions inherent in the framework can be found along its axes. The horizontal axis maps an organization’s focus, with the quadrants on the left focusing primarily inside the