Corporate Cultures – Individual Initiated, Knowledge and Skills Controlled Environment

The Individual Initiated, Knowledge and Skills Controlled Environment is one of two anchor points on the Culture-based Work Performance Model. Subsequently, organizations aligned with this culture set represent the highest level of engagement and creativity while incurring the greatest degree of risk in work consistency and efficiency.[wcm_restrict plans=”61104, 25542, 25653″]

The following characteristics, benefits, risks, and risk mitigators are representative of the Individual Initiated, Knowledge and Skills Controlled Environment.

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures How Work Gets Done Model

Figure 1 – Individual Initiated, Knowledge and Skills Controlled Environment


  • Executives and senior managers focus on business strategy and organizational culture
  • Focus on individual results achievement
  • Culture of ‘we are and work like professionals’
  • Trust in people is balanced by a thorough understanding of their job requirements and limits of authority
  • Processes and procedures allow application flexibility whenever possible
  • Guidelines are used when strict procedure adherence is not required
  • Individuals embrace established policies and procedures
  • Leaders define overarching organizational priorities and performance policies
  • Democratic decision-making whereby supervisors and workers provide input to build consensus
  • Empowerment workplace environment where decisions pushed to as low an organization level as possible
  • Supervisors and individual contributors collaborate to establish day-to-day work priorities
  • Relationship driven workplace environment
  • Policies, values, and professional ethics are defined
  • Organizational results are monitored by informal and sometimes ad hoc metrics
  • Supervisors and individuals exercise a degree of autonomy
  • Individuals have the freedom to take action within procedural guidelines and to determine what work gets done and when consistent with established priorities
  • Individuals determine when and how to apply the performance standards
  • Peer pressure reinforces process, standards and expectations adherence
  • People work within well-defined skill sets
  • Careful selection of people
  • Informal technologies are used to aid process implementation and performance monitoring


  • Individuals empowered to resolve problems consistent with organizational values
  • Local decision-making enables rapid situational response
  • High degree of innovation at all organizational levels
  • Individual contributor self-reliance and self-motivation with little need for constant supervision or direction
  • Teamwork at the worker level
  • Deep respect for people and their contribution to the organization
  • Personal ownership of work and the company
  • High job satisfaction
  • High degree of self-checking of work performed
  • Openness to peer-checking from others particularly in cases of important, irreversible actions
  • Accountable, engaged, and motivated work force


  • Variations in priority setting by individuals misaligns organizational effort and reduces effectiveness ; work performed becomes misaligned with organizational goals
  • Work completion lacks timeliness
  • Inconsistent activity performance spills over into inconsistent results
  • Individuals perform similar/same tasks differently reducing performance consistency
  • Individual judgment is allowed to override formal direction
  • Expectations not followed when the individual ‘knows better;’ misuse of ‘professional discretion’
  • Individuals take the wrong actions for the right reasons and behaviors subsequently deteriorate over time
  • Smooth/unified coordination between various work groups, departments, divisions, and business units
  • Extremely high resistance to change
  • Loss of knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced personnel greatly diminishes organizational capability and capacity
  • Changing business goals not readily translated into changed knowledge and skills
  • Lack of formal measurement systems hinders recognition of when performance deviates from expectation

Risk Mitigators

  • Identification of required knowledge and skills close to the work
  • Rigorously capture, document, and communicate mission critical organizational knowledge
  • Employ a comprehensive set of program performance measures to early identify deviations and defects
  • Engage supplemental support to add programmatic rigor to the implementation of important initiatives
  • Ensure implementation decisions and designs are thoroughly documented and retained in an accessible, indexed location

Note that organizational execution of one or more culture characteristic tenants may be flawed. In these instances, elimination of the deficiency often serves to significantly improve performance.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember plans=”61104, 25542, 25653″]

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