Using the OCAI for Leadership Development

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) is the foremost effective tool for navigating cultural change in the world. (Cameron, 2011) The OCAI evaluates the culture of organizations according to the Competing Values Framework (CVF), which separates organizational culture into four distinct quadrants: clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy. (Cameron, 2011) Using the OCAI, each organization is given a unique cultural signature allowing the organization to conceptualize what quadrant it is strong in.

Not only is the OCAI effective in assisting organizations to discover their existing and preferred cultures, it is also effective in developing leaders and managers so they are equipped to lead the future culture of their organizations. Without individual change an organization’s fundamental culture will not change and the whole exercise becomes a point of frustration for all involved. (Cameron, 2011, Kindle 1987) From a coaching perspective, it is vital for managers and leaders to understand what competencies are needed, and where points of growth exist in order to lead the future culture the organization will become. Below is a list of skills necessary to lead each quadrant in the CVF.

  • Clan Skills: Managing teams, interpersonal relationships, and development of others
  • Adhocracy Skills: Managing innovation, future, and continuous improvement
  • Market Skills: Managing competitiveness, employees, customer service
  • Hierarchy Skills: Managing acculturation, control systems, coordination (Cameron, 2011, Kindle 2045-2070)

Once the OCAI is used to determine the preferred culture of an organization, the skill strength of leaders and managers can be evaluated in light of each quadrant’s needs. Using the OCAI “helps managers go beyond single focus, one track, unilateral change processes, to simultaneously emphasize more participation, more creativity, more efficiency, and more goal setting.” (Hooijberg, 1993, p. 44)

In light of necessary skills, what quadrant would seem most challenging to develop in most leaders?


Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework (3 edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hooijberg, R., & Petrock, F. (1993). On Cultural Change: Using the Competing Values Framework to Help Leaders Execute a Transformational Strategy. Human Resource Management, 32(1), 29–50.


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