Organizational culture can be a squishy subject to some people, but I’ve learned an organization’s culture is inextricably tied to its business performance–in the short-term and for the long haul. Thankfully there are some great tools that can help leaders and organizations truly assess and understand HOW their culture impacts performance and WHICH levers to pull for various goals.

The diagram here shows the Denison Consulting model as linked to business performance.  It’s an incredibly robust and powerful tool for organizations undergoing any kind of change.  The model links to market share, sales growth, ROI, and stock price just to name a few.

I first came to use the Denison Consulting model when I was Director of Strategy and Business Development at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.  Our strategy consultant, Stephen Nose of SYN Associates, recommended the model as a tool to get some baseline measurements as we started to implement our new strategic plan, Vision 2020.  So why did we pick this tool in particular?

For some background, Denison Consulting help organizations to improve business performance by focusing on culture and leadership development — an approach that is rooted in over 25 years of research linking organizational culture and leadership practices to performance metrics such as return on investment, sales growth, quality, innovation and customer and employee satisfaction.

Based on the Denison Model, the Denison Solutions enable organizations to address critical business challenges in such areas as mergers and acquisitions integration, transformation and turnaround situations, leadership transitions, leadership development, and the alignment of strategy with human capital.

At Denison’s core is a set of diagnostic surveys that are designed to help organizations align culture and leadership, diagnose specific areas of strength and weakness, and build accountability into the development process — all helping organizations reach their goal of becoming a high-performing organization.

What I like about using this model, is that it’s extremely robust and holistic.  It looks at:

  • Mission: Direction. . .Purpose. . .Blueprint > “Do we know where we are going?”
    • Includes measures of Strategic Direction & Intent; Goals & Objectives, Vision
  • Consistency: Systems. . .Structures. . .Processes > “Does our system create leverage?”
    • Includes measures of Coordination & Integration; Agreement; Core Values
  • Involvement: Commitment. . .Ownership. . .Responsibility > “Are our people aligned and engaged?
    • Includes measures of Capability Development; Team Orientation; Empowerment
  • Adaptability: Pattern. . .Trends. . .Market > “Are we listening to the marketplace?”
    • Includes measures of Creating Change; Customer Focus; Organizational Learning

I recently went through training to work with clients on this model, and I believe strongly in the opportunity it brings to organizations who want to adapt.  Let me know if you want to discuss how this model may help your team become a high-performing organization.

Is your organization ready for a change?

Stephanie Blackburn Freeth is the creator of The Strategy Tango.


The Strategy Tango is designed to move through seven tried and true planning steps while also accommodating the unique needs of your organization in each moment.


The Strategy Tango process is built upon a foundation of collaboration, candor, and focus.

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