Cultural Modeling using iWAM, VSQ & COMET
by Patrick Merlevede, jobEQ's leading researcher

This topic is linked to several issues that keep the leaders of organizations awake at night: Are our people aligned with the values we stand for? Do our people have the right attitude to succeed? Do they behave in a ethical way? It's also linked to several fields of research: Anthropologists, Philosophers, Psychologists, Theologians... all have their say, but often these scientists seem to live in a world that is far away from everyday business life.

How attitude, Values and competence help to build the brand from within the company (Figure drawn by Wim Thielemans)

Since we started training and consulting companies on building a more emotional intelligent workplace in 1997, and recommended managers to make sure their staff was aligned with the company's mission and values, several of our clients have been asking for help to tackle these kind of issues. We turned to the available literature to find out what could be done for them. jobEQ came up with a range of solutions, some linked to consulting approaches, and 2 linked to what became jobEQ technology. Whether a person within a company is a good "example" of corporate culture depends on whether the person has the attitude and values that fit with the company culture and whether the person has the competencies or skills to execute. Ideally, these values and attitude elements should be linked to the company's brand image as well. Given this framework (see drawing to the right), the idea is to analyze the current culture in order to build a Model of Excellence for the desired culture (based on persons that the company sees as examples of the desired culture) and to compare this model with cultural traits present in other people working for the company (doing a gap analysis). The jobEQ toolset can be used in the following way:

a) Measuring Attitude and Values (VSQ & iWAM)

When we mention corporate culture, most people first think about the values the company states (whether in a corporate statement, or what people within the company will tell you) as well as the attitude the company expects from its employees. To find out how close individuals come to the company culture in terms of values and attitude we recommend using the recently developed VSQ test, best in combination with iWAM. VSQ tests for values systems (Graves) as well as for some of the cultural patterns proposed by Talcott Parsons and taken over by Fons Trompenaars et al. Some of the metaprogram patterns measured by iWAM can also be found in Fons Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner's work. The approach is that we first build a Model of Reference based on "exemplars," which are people who are seen as good examples of the company's desired culture (values and attitude). Once such a model exists, one can analyze how far an individual is "different" from this ideal culture, and through coaching and training one can help to bridge this gap.

b) Measuring Competence (COMET)

Of course, it's not enough that people declare that some values are important and that a certain attitude is desired. What we want is that people are able to walk their talk. In his excellent book "The Corporate Culture Survival Guide" (1999), Edward Schein presents a four-hour exercise one can use to "decipher" one's company's culture. The basic idea is to look at the way problems get solved in a company and what this tells about the company's culture. One can translate this to an individual using the COMET behavioral based interviewing method and the starting question becomes: "Give me an example where you applied value X in a situation at work." This can also be translated in a 360° feedback questionnaire, where we check how often a person's behavior is an illustration of the values we want to see at work.

This description of use of the jobEQ tools is also known as "cultural modeling" or "cultural fit or cultural gap analysis." jobEQ only provides the technology for doing this kind of cultural work. This needs to be complemented by the expertise of a cultural consultant. Contact jobEQ for more information.


  • See "lesson 2" and "lesson 4" in "7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence" (Patrick Merlevede et al, 2001)
  • Some other useful books:
    • Beck & Cowan, 1996, Spiral Dynamics - mastering values, leadership and change
    • Deering, Dilts & Russell, 2002, Alpha-Leadership - tools for business leaders who want more from life
    • Hampden-Turner & Trompenaars, 2000, Building Cross-Cultural Competence
    • Schein, Edward, 1999, The Corporate Culture Survival Guide

To get an example of how iWAM can be used for cultural modeling, read our comparison of Australia to the US and the UK or learn more about modeling in General.
you can also get a graphical representation of the cultural differences in iWAM, see this page.
Or go back to the main research page.

Related Pages
Other Articles

Articles on Specific Metaprograms

The Integral Perspectives Group is an associate since 1998
Buy from Amazon:
7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence, Patrick E. Merlevede, Denis Bridoux et al.
7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence
Patrick E. Merlevede, Denis Bridoux
Words that Change Minds, Shelle Rose Charvet
Mastering Mentoring and Coaching with Emotional Intelligence
Patrick E. Merlevede, Denis Bridoux
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Metaprogram Categories
Many of the jobEQ articles discuss specific metaprogram patterns that the iWAM and our other tools measure. Click here to find out more about the patterns.

last modified: 2019/Feb/02 21:04 UTC