How to Move Your Organization Through 3 Phases of Cultural Refinement

Is your organization frustrating and lifeless or is it engaging and inspiring?

For many people, descriptors such as “dreary,” “discouraging,” “fear-based,” or “missed promises” describe their organization’s culture.

Leaders don’t want a dreary or frustrating organizational culture but most don’t know what to do about it. They’ve seen inspiring organizations but have never been taught how to create or maintain one.

How does a leader go about creating something that, on one hand, is so important, but, on the other hand, seems so amorphous?

Leaders can build a high performing, values aligned culture through an organizational constitution.

Your organizational constitution describes exactly how its members will engage with each other, outside stakeholders and guests, as members act to fulfill their team or department’s purpose, values, strategies, and goals.

An organizational constitution:

  • outlines your team’s purpose, values, strategies, and goals.
  • paints a vivid picture of success, values, and behaviors.
  • maps out how to work from that picture each day.
  • gives team member’s jobs and roles meaning and clarity.

S. Chris Edmonds, a senior consultant with the Blanchard Group, has a new book entitled The Culture Engine, which answers the question, “How do I fix it?” It provides leaders with a framework for crafting a high performance, values aligned organizational culture. That proven framework is creating, then managing to, an organizational constitution.

Edmonds develops three phases of culture refinement through an organizational constitution – the design phase, the align phase, and the refine phase.

Is an organizational culture right for your team? Evaluate your team’s performance, teamwork, and civility. If they’re not where you’d like them to be, change expectations by looking for more than just performance. Create a work environment built on trust, respect, and dignity for all team leaders and members, and you’ll enjoy greater employee engagement, higher customer service, and higher profits.

>> Download a brief summary of Edmond’s Three Phases here.


For over ten years, Auxano has been delivering to churches the process described above: the Vision Pathway.

The Vision Pathway is a one-of-a-kind process that provides a framework to deliver unique and comprehensive Vision Clarity for your organization.

We believe God is doing something cosmically significant and locally specific in your church. By engaging in a challenging process of praying, listening, and interacting with your team around certain key questions, it is possible to articulate the unique vision God has for your church and take practical steps to align your church to move toward that vision.

>> Learn more about our Vision Pathway Process.

>> Start a conversation with one of our Navigators.

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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What say you? Leave a comment!

Jon Pyle — 02/09/15 2:52 pm

As I began to jot notes down about my organization specifically, I think it can become a kind of guiding document that focuses sharply on the "how". It can be a tangible, accessible foundation for everyday organizational reality in different terms than the Vision Proper. Of course, it is a living document that will be saturated with your vision frame (mission, metrics, etc.) and other elements of the Vision Pathway too. Especially when I see a focus on things like values, the constitution can allow you to define them even further and connect them to the operations of the organization. Even your least "big picture" staff/volunteers can grasp and internalize the result of what I interpret Edmonds is going for. It feels very practical. All that to say, I'm not entirely sure! I just ordered the book, so I hope to read through it soon and get a better idea. Thank you for responding.

VRcurator — 02/09/15 2:29 pm

The phrase "organizational constitution" as used by the author, S. Chris Edmonds, captured my attention when I first came across it. The use of terms like values, strategies, goals, and above all clarity, were of great interest to the Auxano team. We are always on the lookout for work by other organizations that supports the Vision Pathway process. We are just diving into the process, but were intrigued enough to want to get it out to the Vision Room readers. I hope to post some follow-up in the days ahead. Jon, after you have had a chance to look at the download, what do you think?

Jon Pyle — 02/06/15 3:10 pm

How does the organizational constitution integrate with the Vision Pathway? Is it the part of zooming down for more detail once your vision is established?

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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