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OCAI: A Quick, Free Assessment To Understand and Articulate Your Current Company Culture

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

What do you say when asked about your company culture? Do you have the words to describe it or are you left at a loss? If you fall into the second category, you're not alone.

As I've mentioned before, culture is often this really intangible thing that's hard to describe to others. Given this difficulty, I'm so excited to share a framework that will help you better understand and articulate your current culture!

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) is a validated research method used to assess organizational culture. Basically, that's just a fancy way of saying that this isn't some silly Buzzfeed quiz – there's hard science behind their findings!

The tool was created by Professors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn and is based on the Competing Values Framework, developed initially by researchers at the University of Michigan to dive deep into effective organizational management, leadership, and strategy. Through their research, Cameron and Quinn determined that effective companies fall into one of four quadrants based on two sets of opposite values:

Internal Focus and Integration - OR - External Focus and Differentiation Stability and Control - OR - Flexibility and Discretion

Cameron and Quinn plotted these two competing values on a matrix, the four resulting quadrants representing significantly different organizational cultures: Clan, Adhocracy, Hierarchy, and Market.

OCAI online example results fall into 4 quadrants of clan, adhocracy, hierarchy and market

While the above chart gives you a clear representation of the four different quadrants, very few companies fall completely in one quadrant.

Instead, most results look something like this:

Example of OCAI results

As you can see, the results will give you both the current state of your culture and what they call your "preferred future." This will allow you to compare and contrast different aspects of your culture that you may want to start changing.

Four types of company cultures according to OCAI

Clan Culture

In this workplace, a friendly and familial environment prevails, uniting individuals through shared values. Leaders assume roles as close mentors. The organization coheres through loyalty and tradition, cultivating robust engagement and camaraderie. The emphasis lies on prioritizing long-term Human Resource development and fostering moral bonds among colleagues. Success finds definition in attending to client needs and nurturing people's well-being. The promotion of teamwork, participation, and consensus remains integral.

  • Leader Type: facilitator, mentor, team builder

  • Value Drivers: Commitment, communication, development

  • Theory of Effectiveness: HR development and participation are effective

  • Quality Improvement Strategy: Empowerment, team building, employee involvement, Human Resource development, open communication

Adhocracy Culture

A vibrant and inventive workplace; here the team embraces risk-taking. The leaders aren't just managers; they're innovators and adventurers. Experimentation and innovation serve as the glue that binds the team together. Organizations hold prominence in high regard, setting sights on continuous growth and resource expansion. Success is the unveiling of fresh products and services. Within these walls, individual drive and autonomy are championed.

  • Leader Type: Innovator, entrepreneur, visionary

  • Value Drivers: Innovative outputs, transformation, agility

  • Theory of Effectiveness: Innovativeness, vision and new resources are effective

  • Quality Improvement Strategy: Surprise and delight, creating new standards, anticipating needs, continuous improvement, finding creative solutions

Market Culture

This organization thrives on results, putting a premium on completion and achievement. Individuals here possess a competitive spirit and a resolute dedication to objectives. Leaders epitomize hard-driving, productive, and rivalrous qualities, setting tough standards and expectations. The glue that binds this organization is its unwavering commitment to victory. Esteem and triumph hold paramount importance.

The organization's horizon stretches towards sustained rivalry and goal attainment. Success finds expression in market penetration and robust stock performance. Competitive pricing and market leadership take center stage. The organizational ethos is steeped in a competitive style, fostering an environment where competition serves as the cornerstone.

  • Leader Type: Hard driver, competitor, producer

  • Value Drivers: Market share, goal achievement, profitability

  • Theory of Effectiveness: Aggressively competing and customer focus are effective

  • Quality Improvement Strategy: Measuring client preferences, improving productivity, creating external partnerships, enhancing competitiveness, involving customers and suppliers

Hierarchy Culture

Welcome to a meticulously formal and structured work environment. Here, process serves as the guiding compass for tasks. Leaders take pride in their efficiency-focused coordination and organizational prowess. Maintaining the seamless operation of the organization stands as a cornerstone.

The bedrock of cohesion lies in formal rules and policies that ensure harmony. Long-term objectives encompass stability and tangible outcomes, complemented by the efficient and flawless execution of tasks. Success finds its definition in reliable delivery, meticulous planning, and cost-effectiveness.

Within this framework, personnel management assumes the crucial responsibility of safeguarding work consistency and predictability.

  • Leader Type: Coordinator, monitor, organizer

  • Value Drivers: Efficiency, timeliness, consistency, and uniformity

  • Theory of Effectiveness: Control and efficiency with capable processes are effective

  • Quality Improvement Strategy: Error detection, measurement, process control, systematic problem solving, quality tools

Pros & Cons

While these descriptions are generalized and most companies are a mix of some or all of the four types, I find it really resonates with companies who are struggling to articulate what their current or ideal culture looks like.


Structured Assessment: Culture Clarity. The OCAI acts like a magnifying glass for your organization's cultural landscape. It lets you examine your current cultural dynamics up close and envision the kind of cultural panorama you aspire to create in the future.

Visual Representation: Culture Art in a Frame. Think of your culture as an abstract masterpiece painted with various hues. The OCAI offers you a sophisticated frame featuring four distinct shades. It's akin to taking a step back and really seeing your whole cultural canvas, hopefully sparking thoughtful conversations about the strokes you wish to add.

Benchmarking: Your Culture GPS. Have you ever felt a bit disoriented amidst the intricacies of your organization's culture? The OCAI can help point you in the direction to get started. It pinpoints your current location on the cultural map and guides you toward remarkable cultural landmarks. Additionally, it connects you with fellow voyagers on similar cultural quests.

Free. Do you get what you pay for? You'll only know if you compare it to other cultural assessments to see what will be the most helpful for your organization now and into the immediate future.


Simplistic Model: While the Competing Values Framework is easy to understand, it might oversimplify the complexity of organizational culture. Real-world cultures can often be a blend of different dimensions rather than fitting neatly into one of the four categories.

Limited Contextualization: The OCAI may not adequately capture the unique cultural nuances of every organization. Culture is deeply influenced by various factors such as history, industry, leadership, and external environment. OCAI's four cultural types might not cover the entire spectrum of cultural possibilities.

Static Nature: The OCAI provides a snapshot of an organization's culture at a specific point in time. However, culture is dynamic and can evolve rapidly, especially in response to internal and external changes. OCAI might not effectively capture these ongoing cultural shifts.

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to OCAI online's website now and take the free assessment. It's a great way to start or continue your culture journey.

If you'd like to chat about your particular results, feel free to schedule a free call with me. I would love to hear about what you discovered and share some additional insight!

To Happier Employees,



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