The Schneider Culture Model

The Schneider Culture Model defines four distinct possible cultures: collaboration culture, command culture, competence culture, and cultivation culture.

The Schneider Culture Model is based on William Schneider’s book The Reengineering Alternative: A plan for making your current culture work.

An organization’s culture is a set of values, norms, and standards that determine how people work together to achieve the mission and goals of that organization. Employees’ behaviour is shaped by their culture.

As a company’s members become more similar, its culture becomes more distinctive.

As a result of these shared values and common cultures, organizational members are able to integrate and coordinate more effectively.

It is a cultural model that dates back to the mid-’90s, but it continues to be relevant today.

In the Schneider Culture Model, we learn about the values and norms within a group or organization.

As well as identifying what’s important, it also describes how people approach work and each other.

Two dimensions are used to describe the Schneider Culture Model.

The first dimension along which the model is defined is based on an organization’s approach to decision-making, which could be more people-oriented (personal) or more company-oriented (impersonal).

The second dimension along which the model is defined is based on what the organization pays attention to, which could be more reality-oriented or possibility-oriented.

With these two dimensions, the Schneider Culture Model defines four distinct cultures:

The Schneider Culture Model

The Schneider Culture Model – Dimensions and Types

At its core, the Schneider Culture Model identifies four distinct cultural orientations that are prevalent in organizations: Control, Collaboration, Competence, and Cultivation. Each of these orientations represents a different approach to work and interaction within the company.

Command culture – getting and keeping control

In this culture, problems are addressed quickly without wasting time on consensus-building, and the approach is more directive. In organizations with a Control Culture, structure and hierarchy reign supreme.

There’s a clear chain of command, and decision-making is centralized at the top. Rules and procedures are meticulously followed, and employees are expected to adhere strictly to established protocols.

While this culture fosters stability and predictability, it can sometimes stifle innovation and creativity.

Collaboration culture – working together

The success of these organizations lies in working together as teams and building consensus in a trusting and emotionally charged environment. Collaboration Culture emphasizes teamwork and cooperation.

Open communication channels are encouraged, and decision-making is often decentralized, allowing employees at all levels to contribute ideas and insights. This culture thrives on inclusivity and values diversity of thought.

While it may sometimes lack the efficiency of a Control Culture, Collaboration Culture excels in fostering creativity and adaptability.

Competence culture – being the best

In such organizations, excellence and superiority are pursued, and a competitive and disciplined working environment is created. In organizations with a Competence Culture, excellence and achievement are highly prized.

Employees are motivated to continuously improve their skills and performance, and meritocracy is the norm. Success is measured by tangible outcomes and results, and individuals are recognized and rewarded based on their contributions.

While this culture promotes a strong work ethic and accountability, it can also breed competitiveness and pressure to constantly outperform others.

Cultivation culture – learning and growing with purpose

It is similar to the decision-making process of a Collaboration culture, but here the focus is more on the growth potential and achieving what is possible but hasn’t yet been realized.

Cultivation Culture prioritizes personal growth and development. Organizations with this culture invest in nurturing the talents and potential of their employees. Learning opportunities abound, and mentorship programs are common.

Feedback is viewed as constructive, and mistakes are seen as valuable learning experiences. While Cultivation Culture may sometimes lack the urgency of a Competence Culture, it fosters a supportive and nurturing environment where individuals can thrive and reach their full potential.

On Methods and Tools website, Michael Sahota presents this amazing board with the Agile values organized with the culture models we learned today. The Schneider model is mapped to the values and principles in the following diagram.

The Schneider Culture Model
The Schneider Culture Model

Collaboration and cultivation are aligned with a high density of values and practices.

It should be noted that there were no elements related to command culture and only one related to competence culture.

I highly recommend you read this article by Michael Sahota on the Methods and Tools website!

The question is, what is the culture that your organization practices (for real) and the culture that it promises to have?

Understanding the nuances of these cultural orientations is key to effectively managing and shaping organizational culture.

By identifying which orientation best aligns with their values and objectives, leaders can cultivate a culture that drives success and fosters employee engagement and satisfaction.

In conclusion, the Schneider Culture Model offers a valuable framework for understanding and shaping organizational culture.

Whether you’re a seasoned business leader looking to revitalize your company’s culture or a newcomer eager to learn the ropes, embracing the principles outlined in this model can pave the way for long-term success and prosperity.

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