The Organizational Culture of Your Dreams

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review on how to “Create the Best Workplace on Earth.”  There is much to be learned from their article and this may be a question team leaders and organizational leaders at churches need to think about more.  In the church world doing the mission becomes assumed as motivational enough for employees or team members, to the neglect of other aspects of inspirational fuel like encouragement, coherent communication lines, well discerned strategies, and intentional leadership.  There are many simple aspects of being a team and creating a culture that are inherent to our “humaness,” and need attention regardless of our team or organization if we are going to create a thriving environment.

Goffee and Jones highlight the six commonalities that they think create thriving cultures.  Here they are:

1. Individual differences are nurtured

  • I’m the same person at home as I am at work
  • I feel comfortable being myself
  • We’re all encouraged to express our differences
  • People who think differently from most do well here
  • Passion is encouraged, even when it leads to conflict
  • More than one type person fits in here

2. Information is not suppressed or spun

  • We’re all told the whole story
  • Information is not spun
  • It’s not disloyal to say something negative
  • My manager wants to hear bad news
  • Top executives want to hear bad news
  • Many channels of communication are available to us
  • I feel comfortable signing my name to comments I make

3. The company adds value to employees

  • I am given the chance to develop
  • Every employee is given the chance to develop
  • The best people want to strut their stuff here
  • The weakest performers can see a path to improvement
  • Compensation is fairly distributed throughout the organization
  • We generate value for ourselves by adding value to others.

4. Organization stands for something meaningful

  • I know what we stand for
  • I value what we stand for
  • I want to exceed my current duties
  • Profit is not our overriding goal
  • I am accomplishing something worthwhile
  • I like to tell people where I work

5. The work is intrinsically rewarding

  • My job is meaningful to me
  • My duties make sense to me
  • My work gives me energy and pleasure
  • I understand how my job fits with everyone else’s
  • Everyone’s job is necessary
  • At work we share a common cause

6. No stupid rules

  • We keep things simple
  • The rules are clear and apply equally to everyone
  • I know what the rules are for
  • Everyone knows what the rules are for
  • We, as an organization, resist red tape
  • Authority is respected

Questions for reflection|

1. What kind of culture are you helping to create (because everyone on the team helps to create the culture)?

2. What is missing from the list above if you could only have 6 elements?  What would you switch out for something else?

3. What is one small step you can take tomorrow to add value to your organizations culture through your words or actions?

Goffee, R., & Jones, G. (2013). Creating the Best Workplace on Earth. Harvard Business Review, 91(5), 98-106.

7 Cultural Patterns

In an article on Cultural Change, the authors list the four building block levers of organizational DNA as:

  1. Decision Rights
  2. Information
  3. Motivators
  4. Structure

“The four building blocks-both independently and in the way they interact–define an organization and largely determine how it will function and perform (Strategic Finance, pg. 12, 2006).”

They then describe the 7 typical cultural patterns they find in most organizations.  Below is an infographic that captures these patterns. 



Q-What is defining your organizational culture?

Q-Is your organizational or team culture what you want it to be?

Q-What do you need to change to better create thriving organizational culture?


Chehade, G., Mendes, D., & Mitchell, D. (2006). Culture Change for the Analytical Mind. Strategic Finance, 87(12), 11-15.