Primary embedding mechanisms

Paying attention to, measuring and controlling on a regular basis

Leaders communicate values, norms and assumptions to followers based on what and where they place their attention, what they measure and attempt to control on a regular basis

Reaction to critical incidents and crises

Leader’s responses to critical situations reveal their values, norms and underlying assumptions; crises tend to expose people’s deeper values

Allocation of resources

The manner in which budget resources are allocated and related to goal setting and strategy formulation reveal leaders’ values, norms and assumptions

Deliberate role modelling, teaching and coaching

Personal examples of leaders can show their values, norms and assumptions, thus sending messages to followers, particularly if such actions are ethical and consistent

Allocation of rewards and status

Leaders communicate their values, norms and assumptions to followers through consistency with the status system, including rewards and promotion

Recruitment, selection, promotion and excommunication

Leaders communicate their values, norms and assumptions by means of how they select, retain and promote people in an organization and/or a group

Secondary embedding mechanisms

Organizational design and structure

The way leaders design and structure organizations reflect their assumptions regarding how goals can best be achieved; however, the design and structure rarely provides an accurate basis for embedding leaders’ assumptions because the design and structure may be interpreted by employees in many different ways

Organizational systems and procedures

Recurrent routines, procedures, reports, forms and other tasks are visible aspects of an organization; they lend structure and predictability to work and provide opportunities for leaders to reinforce their assumptions

Rites and rituals of the organization

Rites and rituals are symbolic ways to formalize certain assumptions; they can be important reinforcers of cultural assumptions if those assumptions are made clear by the primary embedding mechanisms

Design of physical space, facades and buildings

Physical design encompasses all the visual features of an organization, which can reinforce the leaders’ messages if they are managed to accomplish this

Stories about important events and people

Stories, legends or myths reinforce assumptions and teach assumptions to newcomers

Formal statements of organizational philosophy, creeds and charters

Formal statements are attempts by leaders to state explicitly what their values, norms and assumptions are