by Matt Thomas

Several times each year our firm is hired to assess organizational culture. These culture assessments primarily serve to inform our recruiting efforts, but on occasion they afford us the opportunity to help business leaders get a clearer gauge of their organizational health. We spend time with the senior leadership team, middle managers, front lines, and more, working through the same set of questions. For example, “which of the core values do you resonate with the most and why?” “How would you assess the leadership of the organization?” The responses are anonymous and thus produce some fairly honest feedback. We pool the data and summarize our findings in a report for the senior leadership team. Often, what follows is a significant shift in the cultural trajectory.

As a baseline we have developed a framework for four types of healthy cultures and four types of toxic cultures. Today we’ll focus on the former.

But first, what is culture?

The intersection of behaviors and beliefs that make up an organization.

Behaviors are what we do and how we act. Beliefs are what we know and what we believe to be true.

Here are the four types of healthy cultures:


A collaborative culture is one where team members do not hesitate to lean into each other. If someone gets stuck on a project or needs a different perspective they will proactively ask for help and support. There is a common belief that responsibility is shared across the organization and that a team-first mindset is what will move projects forward.


A creative culture celebrates and fosters individual ideation and creativity. Team members are expected to think outside the box and overcome unique challenges in creative ways. There is a premium placed on individual ingenuity.


A process driven culture believes a systematic approach to product development will always produce the best outcomes. Team members are expected to operate inside of clearly defined procedures, protocols, and guidelines. The shared belief is that when everyone sticks to a proven and clear plan the organization will be successful.


A production culture prioritizes the end result. The path to getting to the finish line is less important than finishing quickly and with excellence. Simply put, team members are expected to deliver results and the means by which they get there can be largely up to them. Volume and quality are the most important outcomes.

Where would you place your organization? Next week we’ll tackle the four types of toxic cultures.