Aligning Organizational Culture with Strategy Using the Cultural Web Model

Mark Bridges
4 min readNov 14, 2023

Organizations that fail to establish a clear definition of their organizational culture permit the culture itself to dictate its own course of action, which frequently results in conflicts, negative feelings, and incongruity.

The terms “corporate culture,” “organizational culture,” and “workplace culture” can be used interchangeably. The concept denotes the collective convictions, principles, dispositions, and conduct that characterize both an establishment and its staff. It is manifested within an organization’s environment via the interactions and collaborations among its leadership, management, staff, and clientele.

In conjunction with the mission, vision, and values of an organization, the attributes and temperaments of its staff and executives frequently influence corporate culture. Performance, innovation, market competition, and the capacity to attract and retain talent are all significantly impacted by corporate culture. A positive corporate culture results in more committed, engaged, and motivated people. Conversely, organizations characterized by a negative or hostile organizational culture tend to endure employee discontentment, disengagement, and unproductivity.

Enhancing the organizational culture yields numerous advantages, such as increased employee retention, simplified recruitment of suitable personnel, a positive work environment, and enhanced performance and revenue growth.

Established in the 1990s by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, the Cultural Web model is a conceptual framework employed to assess and comprehend the organizational culture of a business. The model facilitates the coordination of efforts to modify or align the organizational culture with strategic goals, as well as to resolve cultural challenges that hinder advancements.

The model facilitates the identification of the fundamental beliefs, values, and assumptions that influence the behavior and interactions of individuals and organizations within a business. The framework enables strategically diagnosing the culture of an organization and devising interventions to effectuate the desired cultural transition.

A workplace paradigm is comprised of 6 interconnected components, as identified by the framework. A comprehensive assessment of these 6 components facilitates comprehension of the broader context of an organization’s culture:

  1. Stories
  2. Rituals and Routines
  3. Symbols
  4. Organizational Structures
  5. Control Systems
  6. Power Structures

Let’s dig deeper into the first 3 components of the model, for now.

Component 1: Stories

This component can be conceptualized as the collective memory of the organization. Much can be deduced about the values of an organization from its narratives. The element may comprise a comprehensive narrative of the organization’s past, present condition, the accomplishments of its pivotal staff, and firsthand accounts from employees concerning their tenure at the firm.

These narratives and stories often illuminate the core values embraced by an organization, in addition to the behaviors that are considered admirable within the work environment.

Component 2: Routines and Rituals

This element pertains to routine and repetitive behaviors that are accepted and esteemed within the institution. Routines may also be understood as anticipations placed upon employees, including their daily arrival and departure times and the activities that they carry out at the workplace throughout the day.

Employees acquire knowledge of anticipated behavior and conventional standards of conduct in the workplace by experiencing a range of recurring situations. The constructiveness of such behavior is debatable; however, it has become the accepted convention within the organizational culture.

Component 3: Symbols

This element comprises visual signals that communicate the identity and values of the organization. This pertains to visual representations of the institution, including logos, the atmosphere of the workplace, and dress norms (formal or informal). The cultural significance of these visual representations for the organization, its consumers, and individuals is immense.

Visual communication, branding, and industry-specific jargon of a company represent this element. Symbols comprise the mental image that is formed in the minds of both employees and consumers when they consider the organization.

Interested in learning more about the other components of the Cultural Web Model? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Cultural Web Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management.