Research: Organization Culture by Human Synergistics



To start off today, you will be hearing from me in terms of a little bit of information about Human Synergistics, the history of the company, our model, um, as well as, um, the suite of assessments that we use, uh, after this you'll be hearing from Dr. Cook and then we'll turn the time over to our credit and consultants and really see how they use the tools in practice. So to begin today, I'm introducing Human Synergistics. I really believe that our company can be the best thought of like what it really is, a research-based organization founded by Dr. Clay Lafferty, a clinical psychologist over 40 years ago. And since that time we've really been working to better understand the ways in which individuals, groups, teams, managers, leaders, and in fact broad organizations function effectively. Um, Dr. Lafferty originally as a clinical psychologist, became very interested in understanding the ways in which individual effectiveness are impacted or driven by the ways in which individuals think and behave something that we call personal styles.

OCI Circumplex

At that time in the very early 19 seventies, this was actually quite a new concept at that time. Things like personality, uh, experiential data level of education, these sorts of things were well understood to impact how effectively individuals perform both within and outside of organizations. Um, but the concept of using thinking and behavior was, was actually kind of a new idea. Um, I think hopefully today we can understand the concept that the ways in which individuals thing can behave must have some impact on how effective they are. Uh, again, both inside and outside of organizations. However, unlike personality and many of these other measures, um, Dr Laffer d as a clinical psychologist, all behavior and thinking as something that not only could be driving outcomes of effectiveness, but by their nature could be developed and coached, uh, in an effort ultimately to help people become more effective in what they do.

More satisfied so we can understand if we can understand how individuals think and behave and how that impacts their effectiveness. Then really, um, our first 360 degrees behaviorally based tool. The lifestyles inventory or Lsi could also be used as a launching point for coaching and development efforts to help individuals to become more satisfied, more effective. Um, within organizations and other contexts, um, when Dr Lafferty began designing the Lsi, uh, one of the things that was necessary is not only to measure outcomes of effectiveness, but also to be able to represent behavior and thinking styles in a way that is intuitive for, for individuals so that they can understand the feedback that they're receiving. And He, therefore, collaborated with Dr. Cook to begin creating a model to represent those behaviors for the Lsi tool. Um, the model that human Synergistics has created, we today call the circumplex.

It is a circular diagram that orients the 12 behavioral styles that we, personal styles that we look at with the Lsi on this model. Behavioral styles are organized in several different ways. We've tried to do this in a way that is intuitive and also represents the empirical data and research behind the tool as well as some of the underlying psychological theory that that led to its development. The first way in which the, the, the tool is designed really is that the styles of the circumplex are placed a closer together in the cases where there are more similar to one another, and as the behaviors become increasingly dissimilar, they are placed increasingly further from one another until by the time you reach essentially opposite styles on the circumplex. You really are looking at behaviors that are opposite some extent by definition and in fact, negatively correlated.

Um, the, the next, uh, way in which the circumplex was really modeled is, um, we, we wanted to give again some intuitive framework to the tool. So there were two primary dimensions that were used. The first is to orient these behaviors intent in terms of individual needs. Essentially we can think of each of the 12 styles as being exhibited by individuals in an effort to fulfill some type of personal need. Uh, in this case, the simple distinction that we're making is between what we would call higher order needs or needs that have to do with satisfaction and growth and lower order needs to have more to do with security, safety, and self-protection. A grouping needs in this way is, of course, originates from Abraham Maslow and his very well known hierarchy of needs model, much like Maslow. We also orient those behaviors which are security oriented towards the bottom of the model and those behaviors which are those styles which are more satisfaction oriented toward the top.

The second dimension that we use in terms of giving additional structure to the model and intuitive, um, framework has to do with tasks versus people orientation. And this is a very simple of division, a lot, a lot of research and psychological theory, especially in the areas of, and leadership draws a very, very basic distinction in terms of thinking and behavioral styles between whether these are carried out primarily to fulfill tasks or whether they are carried out primarily to work with, with other people, interpersonal behaviors. This distinction that was found very early on to be very intuitive and helpful to add further structure to the model. And um, so in terms of the circumplex, those behaviors on the lefthand side are more task-oriented while those on the right-hand side or more people oriented. So those are the two dimensions that were used to orient those 12 styles. However, the next thing that we really found was that over the years we found that the 12 behavioral styles can really be classified into three more general categories and these categories are based not only on statistical analysis in terms of how they relate to one another but also in terms of their impact on effectiveness because the lifestyles inventory, the circumplex originally was really designed to look at these behaviors in terms of or in the context of effectiveness.

What we find is that each of these three clusters of four behaviors has very different ways in which they impact or drive effectiveness. So that has become a very important aspect of the model to understand. I'm actually for time and time reasons, I'm not going to get into the style level descriptions of all 12 styles. The important thing today is to understand primarily these three clusters and how they drive levels of effectiveness. However, just to help you further, we did also include in your packet, there is a circumplex model in the German language, two-sided with additional information at the style level descriptions. So if you're curious, you can dig in there and find that information as well.


We have termed these clusters based on their shared characteristics. The first one that I'm going to talk about are the passive defensive behavioral styles, and these styles are style three approval style for conventional five dependence and six avoidance. These we can see from the model itself that these behaviors are primarily oriented toward the bottom of the circumplex. They are behaviors exhibited in order to fulfill needs of protection, safety, and security. They are also oriented on the right-hand side of the model which indicates that these are a primarily interpersonal type of behaviors.

When we look at this cluster of styles, really in terms of research, what we find is something very important and that is that the passive defensive styles have very consistent correlations and associations with negative outcomes. That is to say the extent to which individuals exhibit these behaviors tends to be associated with outcomes such as increased levels of stress, lower levels of motivation, engagement and satisfaction, a difficulty effectively solving problems and so on, so purely from an empirical standpoint, human synergistic as company really looks at a development in terms of these assessments and would tend to recommend that individuals really be coached away from using or relying upon passive defensive behaviors purely based on their association with outcomes of effectiveness. Moving to the left side of the model, we have what we've termed the aggressive defensive behaviors. Again, in this case, these styles are oriented toward the bottom of the circumplex, so these primarily have to do with the fulfillment of safety and security needs. In this case, however, we're primarily talking about task-oriented behavior, so these are ways in which individuals approach tasks or work any in order to fulfill their own safety security position, especially within an organizational context.

In terms of the styles that we're talking about. Our style seven oppositional, eight power, a nine competitive and 10 perfectionistic. And again, if you want a little bit more descriptors in terms of what we're talking about, you do have that information again, in terms of the research and how we will we find these behavioral styles to be associated with. In the case of the aggressive defensive styles, the impact is different from the past that defensive in this case, what we find is that the association between these styles and effectiveness is somewhat mixed variable or even unpredictable at times. We find that the aggressive defensive styles are positively associated with outcomes that we would classify as being a positive. Things like increased salary or being promoted in an earlier time while at the same time, however, these styles tend to be associated with many other negative outcomes such as increased levels of stress, lower levels of motivation, satisfaction, a difficulty or a lower levels of effectiveness and solving problems or working interpersonally and groups and teams and so on. So ultimately, um, when, when discussing the aggressive defensive styles, we also see not only for the most part, they tend to be associated with negative outcomes, but especially when we look at them over the long term.

So again, from kind of an empirical Human Synergistics really takes the position of for individual levels, really coaching individuals away from relying upon aggressive defensive types of behavior.

This, of course, brings us to the third cluster, which we've termed constructive. The constructive styles. I really differentiate themselves from both passive, defensive and aggressive defensive in three fundamental and in really important ways. The first way is that the constructive styles, our satisfaction oriented, they are oriented toward the top of the circumplex model and have to do with the fulfillment of individual satisfaction needs for growth, development, learning, improving oneself, these sorts of things. Um, the next thing that we can tell about the constructive styles from the model is that they bridge both the task and people-oriented side so that when we look at them, we can see that it's possible to approach tasks in a way that is constructive and it's also possible to approach people in terms of interpersonal behaviors and styles in a way that is constructive as well.

The styles that we're talking about, our style 11 achievement style, 12, self-actualizing the 1:00 position, moving more toward the interpersonal side, we have humanistic, encouraging, and finally at the 2:00 position we have affiliative. Now the third and final way that these styles, the constructive styles differentiate themselves from all others really is probably the most important and that is that constructive styles are consistently and very predictably associated and correlated with outcomes of effectiveness, so that is again to say the extent to which individuals who think and behave in constructive ways tends to be strongly associated with positive outcomes like lower levels of stress, increased motivation, satisfaction, engagement, higher levels of problem-solving effectiveness, the ability to work more effectively in teams and groups and so on. So again, from a very research-driven perspective, Human Synergistics really does promote the concept of developing, growing and promoting constructive behaviors ultimately based upon their association with effectiveness. Now this model right is proven to be very, very helpful in describing individual behavior and that is how I've used it up until this point in the presentation. What we're looking at or have looked at as the way in which this model can be applied to individual level thinking and behaviors and then associated with outcomes of effectiveness. A very nice model for this and it's been used since the very early 19 seventies in this way, and we continue to use it with thousands of lifestyles inventories around the world every year.

However, a number of years ago, beginning in about 1980, Human Synergistics I would honestly say went through almost a revolution in terms of our company scope and vision and this really all originated from a Dr. Cook beginning to look at the circumplex model from a much broader perspective than the individual level. So you might almost think of it as sort of a social psychological perspective rather than the clinical psychological perspective that led to the development of the Lsi. From that perspective, individuals can be seen as being part of a broader group, individual behavior. The way in which people work together can be seen not only in terms of individuals but also in terms of groups, uh, and, and ultimately brought organizations and even beyond organizations in terms of society. So from that systems perspective, in other words, if we can apply this model effectively at the individual level, that would seem to indicate that it may be applicable to a broader level within the same system.

If we, therefore, can understand the ways in which individuals are effective, these constructive styles, then we should be able to apply again the same model, those same styles to broader groups in order to understand how groups, teams, and organizations can work effectively and that is actually what we have found a. So while Human Synergistics started over 40 years ago with an individual level assessment to develop a more effective individual. What we have effectively done over the past four decades is apply this model to a, an entire organizational system to understand, um, how things take place within organizations at different levels. And actually even beyond a, if you can actually please look into your, your conference packet. Hopefully, you should be able to find a handout that looks something like this on your handout. On one side you have in German the levels of the system that we are referring to.

On the other side of the handouts, you will have the title and name of the Human Synergistics Assessment, which was designed to measure that aspect of the system, um, can be a little complicated. So I think this model that Dr. Cook has provided for our conference last year is really quite helpful. Um, I'm actually going to start somewhat in the center of the model. I'm highlighting it so that it's clear in English entitled behavioral norms and expectations in terms of the system. This really is the cultural level of the model we are looking at, um, and measure with our organizational culture inventory, uh, the ways in which individuals are expected reinforced to behave within organizations and the effectiveness of organizations as well as in several different categories such as individual aspects of effectiveness, satisfaction, motivation, and engagement. A departmental level measures of effectiveness, like how effectively departments function within themselves as well as across departments and organizational levels of effectiveness. Quality and also we get into areas of customer service.

This is really the heart of organizational change. I believe nearly all of the presentations that you will be hearing about today, we'll touch on at least this aspect of the organization or the system model. This is where real growth and development sort of the heart of it because in order for organizations to function more effectively, ultimately we really have to develop more constructive cultures and in order to develop more constructive cultures, we need to understand what is driving culture within organizations. And to do that, we need to look again at our model and you can see above culture there are three primary contributing factors that we have identified. The first one on the left-hand side is entitled leader strategies and impact. We have recently developed assessments designed specifically to have to assess individual leaders and their contribution to the organization's culture. We found quite simply that the ways in which leaders fulfill their responsibilities, the ways in which leaders communicate their expectations have a very profound and important impact on the way in which people function, behave within those organizational contacts. The next section of the model discusses societal values. This is an area of the model that's actually measured by our organizational culture inventory. The ideal version and what we're looking at in this case is really asking organizational members what the values of the organization are specifically to the survey we're asking in terms of what behaviors should be expected of you in order for you to contribute to the organization effectively as an individual.

Next, I'm moving toward the right-hand side. We have a section called systems, structures, technologies, skills, and qualities. This is measured by what we call our organizational effectiveness inventory. Effectively, what we've essentially what we found is there are approximately 31 dimensions that we have identified which have an impact on the way in which individuals behave within organizations. This can be things like the way in which power or influence is distributed throughout the organization. Uh, the way in which individual organizational members are recognized or rewarded, uh, the ways in which organizational members understand their role or responsibility within the organization. These things are very important and intend to lead to culture and the way in which interact in these companies. Uh, so this is the test with our organizational effectiveness inventory.

A moving below the cultural level. We have a section entitled member's personal styles. This is actually looking at the thinking and behavioral styles of individuals. This is the section of the model which is measured by our lifestyles inventory or Lsi that I use to introduce circumplex model in the first part of my presentation that while it is true, I think it's important to note while it is, of course, true that individuals bring their own personality, their own experiences, their own perspective with them as they come into an organization. It can be actually quite shocking the extent to which, um, leadership culture and the way in which organizations are structured actually does in time influenced the way organizational members behave within that organizational context. So understanding these influences on the individual is very important.

On the left-hand side, we have a section of the model and titled Subsystems and Group Dynamics. This is the group or team level of the system and is assessed using our group styles, inventory or GSI. Again, each one of these tools not only measures, essentially behavioral styles at that systems level, but also outcomes associated with the effectiveness that are appropriate to that level of the model. So in the case of group styles inventory, we're looking at things like how effectively group solves problems, how they manage their time, um, individual member commitment to the solution, individual member commitment to the team. And so on.

I'm moving to the right side of the model. We have a section entitled Boundary Spanning Dynamics. This is actually quite an interesting area because this is a systems model. Some of these sections actually extend beyond the organization itself in the case of the organizational culture inventory or the societal values at the top where that actually is including societal values that change globally, which is something that Dr. Koch will be presenting on in a moment and in this case as well. In terms of boundary spanning dynamics, we're looking at actually organizational influences or impacts that extend beyond the organization itself. In this case, we're specifically referencing a survey that we call it the customer service styles, which really looks at the ways in which the organizations themselves are impacting their customer service aspects of customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, all of these things come together and drive outcomes at each of these individuals, at each of the levels within the system as well as for the system. Really as a whole. One thing that I would also say is that it's really important to understand. I know I've got all these sorts of one way going on this model, but we need to look at the system really is, in a much more organic perspective. Um, each of these levels of the system does have impacts upon each other. And while it is, of course, true that leadership and culture and the way that we structure organizations has an impact upon the individuals and groups. It's just as true that the individual members of organizations have impacts upon the teams and organizations that they are members of. So it is important to keep a much more organic sort of perspective in mind when we when we look at how organizations function, having a suite of assessments is, is we find to be extremely important both for consultants as well as organizations for really two primary reasons. First of all, it can be quite difficult. We found to affect change and development by only concentrating or focusing on one level of this system. For example, coaching at the individual level to develop individuals to think and behave in more constructive and therefore more effective ways is a very good effort. Um, however, it's important to understand that there may be at the same time, uh, influences at the leadership or organizational level somewhere else in the model that may be encouraging individuals to behave in other perhaps somewhat defensive ways. So it's always important to keep that in mind when we're looking at the organization. Looking at it from a systems perspective. In fact, you will see that today we have two very good cases in which organizations began specifically by developing individuals using the Lsi. And we have another case where individuals were coached and developed using laws, which is also at that individual level, uh, and in both cases, the organizations have since realized that in order to do this really effectively and to change the organization, we need to begin looking at other levels of the system and understand how things are, are impacting each other.

The second way in which I think it's essential to have a system is that what we're able to do, therefore, because we are applying the same model at each level, is we're able to give organizations a single model, single language, a single set of terminology that they can easily learn and grasp and incorporate. This is not only really important critical for those people who were trying to drive the organizational change, such as hopefully leadership, human resources, the accredited consultants involved in the project. But it's really also important for the organizational members themselves. This gives them a way to understand what is taking place within their organization and how they as individuals can grow and develop and really contribute to developing the individuals, the groups, and the organizations to become more constructive and therefore more effective. This really altogether is the way in which Human Synergistics is working for the last four decades around the world with organizations to fulfill our own personal company vision and goal of changing the world one organization at a time. Thank you.

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