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The Competing Values Framework (CVF) emerged over twenty-five years ago, during research about organizational effectiveness and organizational

culture and has since been validated by numerous studies. The concept of

“organizational effectiveness” is deceptively simple to understand. How do

we know if one organization is more effective than another? In order to

answer this question, it is necessary to consider that not all organizations

and organizational leaders will reach a consensus on what is means for their organization to be effective. Furthermore, how do we assess the culture of an organization and know if one organization’s culture differs from that of another organization?

Organizational leaders regularly confront issues such as how to be

innovative, how to organize and deploy resources, and how to collectively

grow and change as a system. Leaders must then determine how to

confront these and other issues while recognizing that “effectively” doing

so within the scope of an organizational culture requires an awareness

of the everyday tensions that exist within their organizations. Thus, these

competing positive tensions comprise the Competing Values Framework.


The horizontal axis (x-axis) of the CVF indicates a tension in organizational focus as represented in a contrast between internal and person-oriented focus (toward the left) and external and organization-oriented focus (toward the right). The vertical axis (y-axis) indicates tension in differing perspectives on organizational structure, as represented in contrast between an interest in flexibility and change (toward the top) and an interest in stability and control (toward the bottom). Each quadrant has two complementary quadrants (those on either side of it) and one quadrant to which it is highly contrasted (the one directly diagonal to it).



The assessment questionnaire has been developed around the CVF to illustrate three dimensions—the future outcomes (Purposes) that a company desires to achieve, current organizational Practices, and the individual leadership approach of each respective organizational member (People). Research shows that companies that are aligned among the dimensions of Purposes, Practices, and People are much more effective than companies without such alignment. The CVF illustrates the different tensions in how effectiveness can be defined. A key message of the CVF is that despite the different methods for defining organizational effectiveness, it is important that companies are appropriately aligned in their respective definition of effectiveness. Once aligned, companies can find their innovation sweet spot and achieve the growth outcomes that they desire.

This series follows the principles of the Competing

Values Framework (CVF). The result of over 25 years

of academic research and testing, the CVF is a

the broadly applicable model that fosters successful

leadership improves organizational effectiveness

and promotes value creation. The premise of the CVF

is that there are four basic competing values within

every enterprise: Collaborate, Create, Compete and

Control. These values compete in a very real sense

for a corporation’s limited resources (funding, time,

and people). How leadership responds to the tension

created between these competing values will shape a

company’s culture, practices, products, and ultimately,

how they innovate and grow. Recognized by

the Financial Times as one of the 40 most important

frameworks in the history of business, the CVF has

been implemented by hundreds of companies.

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