The Cultural Web is a model created by Johnson and Scholes highlight components of organisation culture. In the Cultural Web six key interrelated elements make up the ‘Paradigm’ or pattern of the work environment.

Organisation Culture_The Cultural Web

  • Stories

These are events and people who are talked about – both positively and negatively. These stories can be both inside and outside the company. The values these convey will tell you a lot about the culture

  • Rituals and Routines

The daily behavior and actions of people that signal acceptable behavior. This determines what is expected to happen in given situations, and what is valued by management.

  • Symbols

Symbols are visual representations of the organisation and can include the company logo, office décor and location and dress code.

  • Organisational Structure

Here we’re not just talking about the formal organisation structure. The information and social networks are a huge source of power and influence. Organisation members also know the ‘glorified’ function in the organisation – the work team or group whose contribution is most valued.

  • Control Systems

How is the organisation controlled? Control systems can include quality systems, financial controls, sign offs and rewards. How rewards are allocated through the organisation is also a consideration here.

  • Power Structures

Who has the greatest amount of say in decisions within the organisation? How is power distributed through the organisation? How really has power and influence? This may be one or two key people or a group or function.


Uses for this tool

This tool has a wide range of uses. The most common use is to facilitate dialogue to understand and / or change the organisation culture or to assess how it supports the organisation strategy.

But I have found other uses for it in both executive and career coaching, for example:

  1. With clients who have recently moved to new organisations / new teams or divisions of their existing organisation.

Getting to grips with the components of culture as quickly as possible can help with building relationships and avoiding political pitfalls.

       2. With clients who are considering moving to new organisations.

Again it is important to get a sense of the culture to decide if the culture of the potential organisation is a good fit.

Often with lengthy selection processes candidates get the opportunity to spend time onsite and to meet with a number of different individuals. Obviously some of the components of this model are more difficult to get to grips with as an outsider.

But many of my clients have been amazed how much information they were able to gather.