Corporate Cultures – Individual Initiated, Rules and Standards Controlled Environment

The Individual Initiated, Knowledge and Skills Controlled Environment represents a culture that is moving toward greater consistency in action if not action initiation. These organizations are still largely guided by local controls and individual contributors and lack the more rigorous oversight and activity reinforcement realized in supervisory and leader led companies. Thus, these organizations gain a limited amount of increased consistency while still maintaining a high level of innovation and flexibility.[wcm_restrict plans=”61097, 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, Rules and Standards Controlled Environment


  • Executives and senior managers focus on business strategy and organizational culture
  • Focus on individual activities, standards and expectations adherence, and results achievement
  • Trust in the individual
  • 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
  • Supervisors and individual contributors collaborate to make day-to-day decisions
  • Supervisors and individual contributors collaborate to resolve tactical issues
  • Supervisors and individual contributors collaborate to establish day-to-day work priorities
  • Hierarchical organizational design led by supervisors and foreman/lead techs
  • Supervisors establish detailed performance standards and expectations with worker input
  • Organizational results are monitored by well-structured metrics
  • Standards and expectations govern most/all activities
  • Individuals have the freedom to take action within procedural guidelines and determine what work gets done and when consistent with established priorities
  • Individuals determine when and how to apply the performance standards
  • Rewards systems reinforce leadership defined goals, standards and expectations driven by all levels
  • Performance standards and expectations are well known and understood
  • Careful selection of people
  • Technologies are used to aid process implementation and performance monitoring


  • Individuals empowered to resolve problems consistent with established standards and expectations
  • Local decision-making enables rapid situational response
  • Focus on what is deemed important at the individual/local level
  • Elevated innovation at all levels of the organization
  • Individual contributor self-reliance and self-motivation with little need for constant supervision or direction
  • Collaboration and teamwork between individual contributors
  • Deep respect for other people and their contribution to the organization
  • Accountability for adherence to established standards and expectations
  • Job satisfaction among supervisors and individual contributors


  • Variations in priority setting by individuals misaligns organizational effort and reduces effectiveness
  • Action initiation inconsistencies cause varying results
  • Supervisors are unable to deal with controversial issues
  • Alienated supervisors
  • Consistency of standards application between work groups and across the organization
  • Individual accountability for results; “I was following the rules.”
  • Ad hoc approaches to problem solving for issues that don’t fit within the rules
  • Endless rule-making – a rule for everything
  • Numerous exceptions to the rules
  • Long-term performance sustainability dependent upon workforce stability (positional and organizational retention)
  • Loss of knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced personnel greatly diminishes organizational capability and capacity
  • Changing business goals not readily translated into changed knowledge and skills

Risk Mitigators

  • Rules and standards coupled to organizational goals in order to drive consistency
  • Performance monitoring mechanisms (metrics and reports) contain clearly defined action triggers to align action initiation to organizational goals
  • Employ a comprehensive set of program performance measures to early identify deviations and defects
  • Identification of required knowledge and skills close to the work
  • Careful selection and recruitment of employees consistent with work requirements
  • Rigorously capture, document, and communicate mission critical organizational knowledge

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=”61097, 25542, 25653″]

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