Culture by Design is Now ---- The Leader Factor

How to Measure Culture

How are you measuring your organization's culture? In this episode of Culture by Design, Tim and Junior are discussing just that. This is a fantastic episode for individuals who really care about being cultural architects and being practitioners in their roles, not just theorists. Tim and Junior will dive into the fundamentals of culture, the different ways we measure culture today, and which metrics give you the most actionable and practical insights on how to improve your culture. 

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Episode Show Notes

How are you measuring your organization's culture? In this episode of Culture by Design, Tim and Junior are discussing just that. This is a fantastic episode for individuals who really care about being cultural architects and being practitioners in their roles, not just theorists. Tim and Junior will dive into the fundamentals of culture, the different ways we measure culture today, and which metrics give you the most actionable and practical insights on how to improve your culture. 

What is culture? (01:28) Culture can be segmented into material and non-material, visible and invisible parts. But at the end of the day it all comes down to how we interact. Tim and Junior explain that how you define culture influences how you attempt to measure it, which, of course, influences your dataset. 

How do most people measure culture? (11:01) Most organizations currently use a mix of employee surveys, focus groups, interviews, cultural audits, exit interviews, performance management tools and people analytics tools to measure what's going on in their organization. They're measuring things like employee satisfaction, engagement, teamwork, innovation, diversity, and turnover, not culture directly. Tim and Junior delve into these methods of measurement and why they are the lag measures of culture, not the lead measures. 

What does a healthy culture look like? (19:09) Healthy cultures are cultures of rewarded vulnerability. The health of our interaction is dependent upon how others respond to our acts of vulnerability, if they're rewarded, we're working in what's called a blue zone. But if they're punished, we end up working in a red zone.

How does LeaderFactor measure culture? (27:12) At LeaderFactor, we measure psychological safety as the lead indicator of culture. If a healthy culture is a culture of rewarded vulnerability, our ability to monitor and measure red and blue zones in organizations allows us to determine the levels of inclusion, learning, contribution, and candor on any team. 

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Episode Transcript

0:00:00.0 Freddy: Welcome back, Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy, one of the producers of the podcast. In today's episode, Tim and Junior are discussing how to measure culture. This is a fantastic episode for individuals who really care about being cultural architects and being practitioners in their roles, not just theorists. Tim and Junior will dive into the fundamentals of culture, the different ways we measure culture today, and what metrics give you the most actionable and practical insights on how to improve your culture. As always, this episode show notes can be found at That includes a link to our free psychological safety behavioral guide with over 100 practical behaviors to improve psychological safety and team performance. Thanks again for listening, and thank you for your reviews. Enjoy today's episode on how to measure culture.

0:01:03.4 Junior: Welcome back everyone to Culture By Design. My name's Junior, I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark, and today we'll be discussing how to measure culture. Tim, how you doing?

0:01:12.6 Tim: Doing very well, Junior. Good to be with you.

0:01:14.5 Junior: You got in pretty late last night, so I appreciate you being here to record.

0:01:18.5 Tim: [laughter] Yeah, I can't control the planes Junior, so.

0:01:20.5 Junior: No, you can't seem to catch a break. There's been a lot of travel lately and a lot of delayed flights, so really appreciate your time today.

0:01:26.4 Tim: Yeah, it's good to be here.

0:01:28.5 Junior: All right. Well, there are many ways that organizations attempt to measure culture. Some are effective, some not so much, and that is what we're going to be talking about today. So let's begin with a definition of terms. This is always very important. So what is culture? If you just go to Google and you say, "What is culture?" You'll get something like this, shared beliefs, values, norms, practices of a group of people, a way of life, or a set of shared understandings that guide how people interact with each other and with the world around them. What do you think about that definition, Tim?

0:02:07.5 Tim: It's not bad. There are probably hundreds of different definitions of culture. I've got a friend that likes to say culture is like squeezing jello. It's pretty elusive. It's pretty hard to get your arms around, and I think that's true, but I think we're also going to be able to show some progress on this front. So that's what I'm excited about this conversation.

0:02:33.4 Junior: Yeah, me too. It's not a bad definition. As you said, there are many ways to look at culture. As you scroll down the page, as you start learning a little bit more, go to the second page of Google, you'll start seeing, okay, there's material culture, we've got clothes, tools, machines, buildings, artwork, monuments, money, these are all pieces of culture. Then we have non-material culture, language values, norms, laws, customs, etiquette, social roles. And so you can see culture's a difficult thing to measure. How are you gonna be measuring the buildings and the artwork and the laws and the etiquette and all of that rolls into culture. And so you have this one thing, this umbrella that you call culture, but there are so many different ways to slice it, so many different ways to define it that it can become really difficult.

0:03:21.5 Tim: That's really true, Junior. And there's another way to slice it too, we can also distinguish between visible and invisible culture. So think about what's... Well, let's go to invisible first. Think about what is invisible? Values are invisible. Assumptions are invisible. Attitudes and beliefs are invisible. That's all invisible. But what is visible is when those things find expression in behavior. That's gonna come into play here as we talk about the way that we define culture. But that's another very important distinction that we can make about culture.

0:04:02.6 Junior: So as many of you probably have, we've wrestled with this concept for a long time. And a time ago we came to this definition, I remember the first time that I heard Tim define culture this way. Like, "Oh, that makes a lot of sense." We define culture as, the way we interact. Those four words. And we push aside a lot of the detail and a lot of what's extraneous as it relates to organizational culture. So for our intents and purposes, that is what culture is, the way we interact. So why is this definition of terms so important? Because what you think culture is, how you define culture, will influence how you attempt to measure it. And I can't emphasize this point enough. This is one of the most fundamental points of today's conversation. And if you look at how other organizations measure culture, it's going to be influenced by what they think culture is. And if they haven't gone to that length to define what culture is, then almost by definition they're not going to be measuring what they think they're measuring. What do you think about that?

0:05:13.5 Tim: Well, I think that's true, Junior. And that's why there's so much complexity in people's attempts to measure culture. The more complex it gets, the more elusive our efforts to measure it in a meaningful or an accurate way or an actionable way that actually helps us, right? Because there are two reasons that we are trying to measure culture. One is a researcher and academic purpose. We're trying to understand it better just for the sake of understanding. But the other purpose is that we're trying to understand where we are as a social collective, whatever social collective you may be in, and we're trying to get better, we're trying to improve it. So there's a research purpose, but then there's a very practical purpose that every organization has, to try to get better, to improve the culture. That's really gonna come into play here.

0:06:12.5 Junior: And I would venture to guess that most listeners are concerned with the practical application of measuring culture. That's probably why you're here listening to this conversation, because measurement in isolation is not valuable for us at all as practitioners. There's no value. It's only when the measurement informs our behavior and what we do next, what we do differently, that it makes any sort of sense. And so that has to be the next step, which we'll talk about toward the end of today's conversation. But measurement alone is not going to get us there, but we have to start there.

0:06:49.4 Tim: Think about how relevant this is. We'd like to say that fish have water, humans have culture. We swim in culture, we live in culture. Now, we may move from one culture to another, and we do, in the course of a given day, we spend time in different cultures, what we call subcultures or microcultures. If you want to talk about something that's relevant to the human experience, it's culture. Because we don't get out of culture as we like to say, you can't step out of the culture and dry off with a towel. You move from one culture to another culture. So it is this continuous part of the human experience.

0:07:32.5 Junior: So to wrap up the idea of definition of terms and why that's so important, here's an invitation for you, if you wanna check alignment, if you wanna check, if you do have a shared definition, go ask a few people in your organization what they think culture is. [laughter] And I think that you'll be surprised at the answers you'll get. I'm really confident that they all won't say the same thing. And if you have, let's say, 10 different definitions for culture in your organization, how in the world could you possibly measure accurately? Or let's say that you measure and then you tell people, "Hey, here's how our culture's doing." If they have different ideas of what culture is and we're not on the same page, they're going to interpret those results differently. And so that's why alignment is so important as we approach this topic. So Tim, you mentioned a couple things that we're hoping to achieve by measuring culture, and implicit in that, something that we won't spend a lot of time today unpacking. You probably understand intuitively that the health or the quality of your culture affects the performance of your organization. It almost goes without saying, but that is why we're here. We understand that the quality of our culture will affect our performance. So let's dive into measurement. Tim, you're a social scientist, how do you measure culture? How might we approach this?

0:08:52.5 Tim: Let me just add to what you just said because you made a really good point. We're trying to understand it because it affects our performance. But what's so interesting about culture is that it has what we call reciprocal influence. So we shape culture, but culture shapes us. Culture therefore, is both an independent and a dependent variable. It's both a cause and an effect. So think about the complexity of that. Wow. How do we measure it? To measure anything in social science, you have to take the concept and convert it into... Well, for example, if you're using quantitative methods, you have to convert it into survey items that represent that concept. We call that process operationalization. So the way we measure culture is to define it as the way we interact, right? Which you just said. But that's a quick summary of how we do it.

0:09:55.4 Tim: Now, think about how hard it is to do that, Junior, if your definition is very general. Let me give you an example of a general definition of culture that we hear a lot. Culture is the way we do things around here. Okay? Now that may be true, but that is so loose, so broad, so general, so kind of abstract and opaque that how do we operationalize that? It's impossible. You can't in any kind of meaningful way turn that into survey items that capture the essence of the construct. You can't do that. So that's why, as we've landed on this definition of, the way we interact, we actually can operationalize that in a very meaningful way. And we will talk about how we do that.

0:11:01.5 Junior: So what do we currently use to measure culture? We work with a lot of different organizations, and there are a lot of ways that people are attempting to measure culture. They might use employee surveys, they might do focus groups, interviews, cultural audits, exit interviews. They might monitor just observationally behaviors in the work environment. They'll use performance management tools to try and affect culture. They're using people analytics tools. They're using polls surveys, they're using apps. They're using all sorts of things to try and come at this and measure culture to then affect it. So they're using all of these tools, but what actually are they measuring? Because they're not directly measuring culture, they're looking for a bunch of proxy indicators that will tell them about what's going on culturally.

0:12:06.5 Junior: They're looking at employee satisfaction, they're looking at employee engagement, they're looking at teamwork quality, they're looking at innovation, they're looking at customer satisfaction, they're looking at diversity, turnover. The list goes on and on of all of the things that we're attempting to measure as proxy indicators for culture. And so notice that list that I went through doesn't include culture itself. Culture's not something that you measure directly. And that's what makes this so difficult. And that's what makes this complicated. Culture's a composite variable. And in the research, they use a different term, Tim, they say multifactorial. Is that correct?

0:12:30.4 Tim: That's right. Yeah.

0:12:31.6 Junior: So, you have to look at proxy indicators to get at the heart of what culture is. So here's an example for you. If you're going to measure poverty, you're not going to measure directly. There's no objective poverty measurement. You're going to measure other variables, income, employment, educational attainment, housing quality, access to healthcare, and so on. And all of those things which we believe are correlated with poverty, will help us get an idea of what poverty actually looks like across those variables. That makes sense?

0:13:05.4 Tim: Yeah. So Junior, and for example, with poverty today, people are focused on food insecurity. So they come up with ways to measure that, which becomes an overall proxy for poverty, there's another variable that's very prevalent today.

0:13:21.5 Junior: So culture's similar, and that we're looking to measure certain variables that tell us what's going on with our culture. But here's the kicker, we're often looking at the wrong ones. So those things that we said organizations are measuring are often the wrong indicators. And the biggest one that we see, the biggest failure pattern, is the tendency to use employee engagement as a proxy indicator for cultural health. Now, we've talked about this a little bit in the past and we're not gonna dive into it today, but that's an example of one of the things that we would take a little bit of issue with and say, "Ah, they're different things. There are different things." And so you can't just take employee survey data as it relates to engagement and say that this is a direct reflection of our culture and gives us actionable steps to go forward and improve our culture.

0:14:14.5 Tim: Well, I think so Junior, it's engagement surveys can be terribly misleading because they are measuring, for the most part, lag indicators. So, they're not getting at good proxies for culture. They're measuring the effects or consequences of their culture. So for example, if your engagement scores are low, that's a reflection of a weak or unhealthy culture. But it doesn't tell you what's wrong with your culture. You still have not diagnosed the problem, because you haven't measured good proxies for culture. You gotta go upstream.

0:14:58.4 Junior: If you look back at the definition, you say, "Okay, what is culture?" Culture is the way we interact. And then you say, "Is the engagement survey and the items in that survey, are those reflective of the way we interact?" No, no. Often no. Often you'll get a piece of it, right? You might have one item in your engagement survey that tries to get at it, or two items, but you're not going to get the whole picture. And so we have found time and time again with organizations small and large, that it's not enough. And how do we know this? Here's an interesting kind of anecdotal evidence for you. How do we know this? Because we have dozens of organizations coming to us for help after their engagement survey gives them some hints about the problem, but doesn't tell them exactly what it is. And it certainly doesn't tell them what to do about it.

0:15:52.6 Junior: And so this has been really interesting evidence to me because we've heard this story time and time and time again. "Hey, we ran our engagement survey and there's this one item that's uh, it's just not quite where we want it to be. We think it's a little bit reflective of a cultural issue. Where do we go from here?" If the engagement survey and the data in front of them were an accurate reflection of cultural health and gave them steps forward, we wouldn't be having those conversations, they would keep to themselves and move forward, right?

0:16:22.3 Tim: Yeah. Well, Junior, it's like having a car that's not running well, it's kind of sputtering down the road and you're measuring the fact that it's not running right, it's not performing, but you don't know why. And that's exactly what's happening with engagement surveys and engagement scores. And people are throwing up their hands and they're saying, "Well, our engagement scores are low, but we don't know why, we don't know what to do about it." Because they have not diagnosed the problem.

0:16:51.4 Junior: So certain metrics are better than others, but almost none are going to give the full picture. They're not telling the whole story. So if Tim said, "Well, we're measuring lag indicators," then what are the lead indicators? What's upstream? So let's start by asking this question. If we're trying to measure the health of our culture, what does a healthy culture look like? If we define culture as the way we interact, then how do we aspire to interact? What's the goal? Here's what we think. We aspire to an environment that's deeply inclusive, a place that accelerates learning, a place where people can contribute, and a place where we can stimulate innovation and get better. So you might notice those are the four stages. Those are the four things that we believe to be important as it relates to culture. If we don't have those four things, we're not gonna get there.

0:17:49.4 Junior: And so if that's how we define a healthy culture, then those are the things that we have to measure to figure out where we are, to figure out what's going well, what's deficient, so that we can then change our behavior, have some sort of intervention that will change the outcomes. So if we go all the way back down and we say, "Well, what does healthy culture hinge on?" It's binary. It hinges on the behaviors that either reward or punish vulnerability. And this is a key point because this has everything to do with how we're measuring culture. This is the heart of it. If we are not measuring the way that people respond to acts of vulnerability, we're going to miss it.

0:18:33.0 Tim: That's exactly right, Junior. So we're trying to isolate and measure these key patterns of behavior. These are lead indicators, they're not lag indicators, these are the lead indicators that make all the difference. They reflect the way people connect and share and work together. We're trying to get at those patterns. If we can do that, if we can measure those patterns, then we are measuring what we believe to be the very best proxies for culture. And that becomes actionable information, we can do something with that. We know where we are.

0:19:09.6 Junior: So, what do we measure to measure culture? We don't measure employee satisfaction, we don't measure engagement, we don't measure customer satisfaction, we're not looking at turnover, we are looking at psychological safety. Psychological safety is the heart of culture, that is what we're going to measure. And why is psychological safety the heart of culture? Because human interaction is a vulnerable activity. And the health of our interaction is dependent upon how other people respond to our acts of vulnerability, like asking a question or making a mistake. And that's the fundamental mechanism. It doesn't get any simpler than that. If you were to just ask the question, "How is my cultural health?" The answer would be, "Well, look at the ratio in which people punish and reward acts of vulnerability." If you could capture that, that would give you a really good idea of the health of your culture. Now we've gone and we've put that into the four stages to give us more differentiation and make the framework more actionable, but that's essentially what we're doing.

0:20:17.9 Junior: So there's some language that I think is helpful to understand as we're approaching measurement, because this is what we do. We're looking for areas of punished vulnerability, we call these red zones. And these are things that we do in the reporting as well, we show the red zones inside an organization. Now, red zones are characterized by what? Fear response. People are acting in self-preservation, they're acting out of loss avoidance. And so when we measure, we wanna know where these red zones are, where are those zones where people are acting this way, because those red zones have a huge effect on the culture of the organization and our performance.

0:20:58.1 Tim: That's right, Junior. And the good news here is that these proxies... Right, let's go back. So we said, our definition of culture is, the way we interact, so then that means that we need to find accurate proxies that represent that. And in this case, you're saying, "Okay, let's talk about acts of vulnerability in the way that people respond to those acts of vulnerability. And if you're in a red zone, we can measure what people do and how they feel, right?" So a fear response means that people will go into defensive routines, they withdraw, they retreat, they manage personal risk. We can measure that. We can measure that very accurately. So our proxies are in complete alignment with the definition of culture. So what that means, going back to that big clunky word that I used before, is that we are very accurately operationalizing the construct of culture. We're really getting our arms around it, and it's very accurate. So we can tell if a team or an organization, whatever the unit is, we can tell the overall strength and health and vibrancy of that culture.

0:22:21.9 Junior: So on the other side of the red zones, we have blue zones. Now, these are areas of the organization that are characterized by a performance response. This is where people are engaged, they're giving of their discretionary effort, and we're measuring to find out where these blue zones are, as well. And one of the things that I'll bring up is that we measure at the team level. If you were just to lump everyone into a big bucket in the organization and look at average results, what are you gonna find? You're gonna find a normal distribution and how actionable is that data going to be. It's not. And we've talked before about the fact that the leader of the team is really dictating whether or not that environment below them is a red zone or a blue zone. And so if you looked at the entire organization and looked at the average, you wouldn't have the ability to define these clear pockets of red zones and blue zones of health and pathology. It would just look like a big average. And what are you going to do when you see just a normal distribution? Well, you're gonna try and come up with some application that affects everybody, in the same way, you're gonna use a blunt instrument, you're gonna try and shotgun and do the whole thing all at once, and it's not going to work. So I wanted to call that out. The level at which you measure culture is incredibly important.

0:23:52.4 Tim: Well, that's right, Junior, because if you aggregate the data, as you say, you will surrender to the law of averages. Just for the benefit of listeners, maybe talk a little bit about the local variants that we see when we measure, say, 100 teams in an organization, what does that look like?

0:24:09.7 Junior: Yeah, the distribution is massive. So we measure at the level of the intact team, so people leader and their direct reports. And what we'll find really, it's fascinating. Often organizations will give us their org chart data and they'll show us the hierarchy, and we build that into our reporting visualizations. And what's fascinating to me is to look at the variants inside a single department, let's say, or a single geography, let's take it. We got a geography that has five teams. Those five teams may have the same leader of leaders, so let's say that two above is the same person, but when you look at those teams side by side, you might have one that is very, very red. In other words, red zone punished vulnerability. And then you have a team next to it that's a full blue zone, really healthy. And what's interesting about this is that we have seen time and time again, these two teams may have the same responsibilities, they may have the same structure, they may be in the same location, they may have the same objectives and metrics and everything about those teams looks identical on paper, except for one thing, the team leader. The way that that team leader responds to acts of vulnerability will dictate the culture beneath them. And so that's why you can have that much variance at the team level. And we've seen this just every day.

0:25:46.6 Junior: And what's fascinating is, let's say that you just pooled those two teams together, right? Let's say you are measuring two teams of seven people each, and instead of two surveys looking at each of those seven, you have one survey that looks at 14. You lose the differentiation. You lose the distinction and the specificity. Before, if you measure at the team level, you could say, "Okay, this manager needs some work, this is a pocket of a red zone that we need to attend to, and this one is doing quite well." You lose that ability the second that you put those two teams together. Now, how does that affect your succession planning? How does that affect your leadership development approach? How does that affect your subsequent intervention? It makes all the difference in the world. And so it's incredibly important. So to answer your question, the local variance is extremely high, which is why we measure this way.

0:26:41.7 Tim: That's right. So we need local data in order to reflect local variance. That's where it becomes actionable. And Junior, as you said, really overall, what we're showing is a team's culture measured on the continuum that runs from health to pathology, and we can tell you where that team is. And it's just astonishing to see the variants as we look across many teams.

0:27:12.4 Junior: Okay, so let's get into the construct. We've talked about this mechanism of punished and rewarded vulnerability, but let's go to the next level and help you understand how we approach this here at LeaderFactor. So we use an instrument that is the instrument behind the four stages team survey, it's a psychometric scale that measures not just one category of vulnerability but four, based on the four stages. So here are the things that we're getting at, the first is connecting. We're looking at socio-cultural belonging, and we're trying to measure that. There's a three-item subscale that measures that. Next, we have learning. We wanna measure cognitive development. Then we wanna measure contributing value creation. And four, we wanna measure challenging the status quo, innovation and continuous improvement. So when you break down culture the way we interact, those are the four categories that we're measuring, connecting, learning, contributing and challenging. There are three items in the subscales for each of those, which is how we get to our 12-item team survey. Now, many of you probably know those are of the four stages of psychological safety, inclusion safety, learner safety, contributor safety and challenger safety.

0:28:28.9 Tim: When we measure all four stages, we get a complete or a holistic picture of the way people are interacting on the team. So now we have a really firm grasp for the prevailing norms. And those norms reflect the de facto values of the team. Remember how we said some aspects of culture are invisible? Well, the main ingredient of a culture would be the values, but the values are invisible. And so we can't measure anything until those values find expression in behavior. And that's what we're able to do.

0:29:08.0 Junior: Okay, so that's how we approach measuring culture. And we've walked through all of the steps of why that's the case. The output, as Tim mentioned, is now actionable. It's something that we can use to inform our future behavior and intervention. So when we measure using this methodology, it's not for the purposes of research, although that's part of it. The outcome that we aspire to is cultural change, it's cultural transformation. We wanna improve the quality of interaction. And so when we look back to our original definition, the way we interact, we wanna interact better, we want to interact across those four stages with a high degree of cultural competence. So the cycle then becomes, gather the data and then act on the data, and then get more data, and then act on that data and so on and so forth, and it's a cycle. And so that's the next component of measurement that I would call out, which is that it needs to be ongoing. It's something that never ends because culture is dynamic. We have people moving in and out of the organization. We have macro level stuff happening outside the organization that's putting pressure on different pieces of the organization, things change constantly. And so culture, if we let's say measure once, and we do quite well with wherever we're at in the organization, it doesn't mean that we're going to do well six runs from now, it also doesn't mean that we're going to do worse.

0:30:50.2 Junior: We could be the same. There are a lot of variables that are moving at all times, which is why it's important to have a sort of cadence. And many organizations do this when they measure other things, this is no different, we've gotta keep our finger on the pulse of what's happening culturally.

0:31:05.5 Tim: Junior, let me give you an example of this. So I was just in Canada this week, working with a very large multinational corporation. And yesterday we went over their four stages of psychological safety data for a number of teams, and then we also aggregated that so that we could see it overall. And this was the second measure, the first measure happened a year ago. And we went over that and then we went over the new data to see what had happened. So now we have time series data, right? Now we're looking longitudinally at performance over time. They had a 7 1/2% improvement in a year, which is significant, using the four stages of psychological safety psychometric team survey tool, 7 1/2% improvement, very significant achievement because of two things.

0:32:04.8 Tim: Number one, they know where they started from, right? They had baseline, it was accurate. And then they were very deliberate about putting together action plans, what are they going to do? How are they going to do it? And then staying with it, being consistent, maintaining momentum, keeping it going. And what are they focusing on? They're focusing on that central mechanism of modeling and rewarding vulnerability. And so here we are a year later, and wow, 7 1/2% improvement is a significant accomplishment. So it shows you what you can do if you begin that entire journey by measuring culture in an accurate way that really gets at the heart of culture, which as we define it, as the way that we interact. So that's just a case study from this week. It was pretty amazing.

0:33:00.1 Junior: What stage moved the most? Do you recall?

0:33:03.0 Tim: Yes, stage four, challenger safety. [chuckle] Actually, it was both. It was both stage one inclusion safety and stage four challenger safety, those two stages moved the most significant progress, significant gains. The prevailing norms are shifting in a meaningful way. So what does that mean? That means the way that people are interacting is changing, the pattern of that is changing in visible and measurable ways. People notice it, and it's affecting their performance, it's affecting their attitudes, it's affecting their engagement, right? Isn't that interesting? So the engagement then comes later. It becomes a lag indicator for these things that are happening.

0:34:03.3 Junior: So the last thing that I'll mention on the measurement front is the fact that we're gathering quantitative and qualitative data. So we mentioned the 12-item psychometric scale, we have four open-ended responses as well, and what this allows us to do is provide some color to the quantitative data and help organizations understand how people are actually feeling in their own words as they respond to these four open-ended questions. So as an example, you might ask, "What is one thing that prevents you from feeling included on your team?" By doing that and aggregating all of that data, we get another angle, right? People can say, "Here's what's hanging me up," right? "Here's what is difficult." And that gives us some more data with which to then inform our intervention. And so I wanted to mention that qualitative piece that's also very important and something to consider when you're measuring culture.

0:35:10.0 Tim: Well, Junior, I appreciate you saying that because the quantitative data shows us what is happening, where we are, what the current state is, but it's the qualitative data that shows us the how and of times the why. It gives us the richness and it has explanatory power for that quantitative data. And so when you put them together, that's where the magic happens, you really understand where you are and why you're there, and what's going on right at a detailed level.

0:35:46.9 Junior: So today, we've talked about how to measure a culture. Where have we been? We started out by asking the question, what is culture? And this definition of terms is extremely important. So that's the first thing to consider inside your team, inside your organization, is how do you define culture, because your definition will inform the way that you measure. It will inform how you measure and how actionable those results are going to be. Because if that definition does not translate into something that is operational, it's going to be very difficult to make any difference. We also understand that the cultural health of our team, of our organization will affect its performance. And so at the end of the day, what are we trying to do? We're trying to create an inclusive environment where people feel safe to learn, to contribute, where we can challenge, make things better and we can innovate. And so there's high, high correlation between the cultural health and the technical performance, which is something that we cannot disassociate, especially over a long enough time horizon.

0:36:53.1 Junior: So, how do we measure culture? We measure psychological safety using a scale that gets across the four stages, so that we can see, Okay, here's where we are today, this stage is deficient or there's a red zone over here, we can then inform our behavior moving forward. Here's what we might do to correct that in the organization. Here's what we might do to support this piece of the organization. We use that data to inform our succession planning. We're starting now to screen for psychological safety when we're hiring. So you can see how this becomes holistic as we're measuring, it's affecting our behavior as an organization all over. So as we do that, and we do it over time, we'll be able to more predictably and consistently improve our culture and keep tabs on what's going well and what's not.

0:37:45.8 Junior: So as we do that, as we hold ourselves accountable for improvement, our organizations will get better, and we'll all be able to consistently experience what it's like to be in a place where you feel included, safe to learn, safe to contribute and safe to challenge. When we do that, we're gonna have high engagement, we're gonna have high satisfaction, and we're all going to develop at a personal level in a way that we otherwise wouldn't. So Tim, any final thoughts today?

0:38:11.6 Tim: Just one thought, Junior. How significant a breakthrough is this? In my mind, our ability to operationalize the definition of culture this way through psychological safety is perhaps the biggest breakthrough in organizational science in a generation. That's how significant we think it is.

0:38:33.4 Junior: I believe that it's that significant. Our clients do too. So if you're interested in figuring out how this could work for your organization and you have the same definition of culture as we do, or you wanna adopt it, then reach out, we'd be happy to help you. Thank you everyone for your time, your attention. We appreciate you very much for everything that you do, the work you do in your organizations out in the world. We need more who are interested in becoming better. You can always reach out to us at and as always, we appreciate your likes, your reviews and your shares. Take care, everybody. We will see you next episode. Bye bye.


0:39:16.5 Freddy: Hey, Culture by Design listeners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the important links from today's episode at And if you found today's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share it with a friend and leave a review. If you'd like to learn more about LeaderFactor and what we do, then please visit us at Lastly, if you'd like to give any feedback to the Culture by Design podcast or even request a topic from Tim and Junior, then reach out to us at or find and tag us on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do by design, not by default.

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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