Activity: Exploring Organizational Culture

Try this activity to identify the aspects of your organizational culture that may enable or impede your innovation process.


What is organizational culture?

Organizational culture is the way you do things. Read more about this topic in our post about the 3 Levels of Organizational Culture.

Activity Objective

  • To explore the culture of your organization by describing your behaviors, values, and assumptions.
  • To reflect on which aspects of your culture are enabling or inhibiting your innovative projects.


Download the accompanying worksheet here.

Download: Exploring Organizational Culture


This activity is for one individual or small groups of two to three people. Multiple groups might work simultaneously if you want to do this exercise with a larger group.


20 minutes


Complete the worksheet by answering the following two questions per section:

Typical behavior patterns

  • If someone came fresh to our workplace, what would particularly strike them?
  • How would we characterize how people interact at our organization?

Stated values

  • What do we say we value in our organization?
  • Do we always live up to these values, or are different values sometimes displayed in what we do?

Fundamental assumptions

  • What views and attitudes do we take for granted?
  • What assumptions underlying our work are simply not questioned?


Which aspects of your culture do you think are enabling you to innovate? Which aspects of your culture are inhibiting or obstacles?


In the comments section of this activity, we encourage you to share something that you learned or something that surprised you.

Looking for more inspiration? 

Check out our posts from The Tipster, which bring you easy-to-digest tips on topics that matter to your innovative work, such as: the roles of individuals on teams, how to give good feedback, different kinds of group decision-making processes, and the different modes of engaging with the arts.

We also encourage you to explore our Innovation Stories collection, which shares narratives from organizations that are daring to do things differently in order to adapt to their rapidly shifting environment.

Interested in pursuing adaptive change work at your own organization? We encourage you to check out some of the service offerings from EmcArts, the nonprofit service provider behind ArtsFwd.

Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.