The Dexterity of the Competing Values Framework (CVF): Organizational Design, Leadership, Culture, & More

Note: This article originally published by my colleague David Tang.

The Competing Values Framework (CVF), developed by Robert Quinn and Jon Rohrbaugh in the 1980s, is a management theory that was developed initially from research done on the major indicators of effective organizational performance. Based on statistical analyses of a comprehensive list of effectiveness indicators, Quinn and Rohrbaugh discovered 2 major dimensions underlying conceptions of effectiveness, focused on:

  1. Organizational focus

Together, the 2 dimensions form 4 quadrants, with each quadrant unique and defining sets of values and implications.

This model has been found useful for organizing and understanding a variety of topics related to Organizational Design, and extending beyond, including Leadership Development and Organizational Culture. Here is a broad list of topics where we can apply CVF:

  • Organizational Design

Below is a diagram capturing the essence of this framework:

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into each of the quadrants.

Collaborate — Human Relations Model

The top-left quadrant places a lot of emphasis on flexibility and internal focus. It stresses cohesion, morale, and human resources development as criteria for effectiveness.

General competences and attributes for organizations in this quadrant include teamwork, collaboration, talent management, empowerment, or inter-personal relationships. Key value drivers include commitment, communication, and development.

Leaders fitting this collaborative orientation tend to fit the profile of facilitators, mentors, and team builders. Facilitators tend to manage conflict well, using participative decision making.

Create — Open System Model

The top-right quadrant emphasizes flexibility and external focus, and stresses readiness, growth, resource acquisition, and external support. Tools and techniques, including innovation, creativity, articulating future vision, transformation change, or entrepreneurship, are highlighted here.

Control — Internal Process Model

The bottom-left quadrant emphasizes control and an internal focus; and stresses the role of information management, communication, stability, and control. Tools and techniques, including assessing and measuring, controlling processes, structuring, efficiency improvement, or quality enhancement, are highlighted here.

Compete — Rational Goal Model

The final quadrant emphasizes control and an external focus. It regards planning, goal setting, productivity, and efficiency as being effective. Tools and techniques, including competitiveness, fast response, decisiveness, driving through barriers, or goal achievement, are highlighted here.

Interested in gaining more understanding of CVF? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the Competing Values Framework (CVF) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Organizational Design (AKA Organizational Re-design) involves the creation of roles, processes, and structures to ensure that the organization’s goals can be realized. Organizational Design span across various levels of the organization. It includes:

1. The overall organizational “architecture” (e.g. decentralized vs. centralized model).

2. The design of business areas and business units within a larger organization.

3. The design of departments and other sub-units within a business unit.

4. The design of individual roles.

In the current Digital Age, there is an accelerating pace of strategic change driven by the disruption of industries. As a result, to remain competitive, Organizational Design efforts are becoming more frequent and pervasive — with the majority of organizations having experienced redesign within the past 3 years. This has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Frustratingly, only less than a quarter of these Organizational Design efforts are successful. Most organizations lack the best practice know-how to guide them through these Transformations effectively.

Learn about our Organizational Design (OD) Best Practice Frameworks here.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management. https://flevy.com