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“An organization that develops a strong and adaptive culture will enjoy greater loyalty from customers and employees alike. Cultures that foster ownership create labor and cost advantages because they often become better places to work, so they become well known among prospective employees. Compared with less effective cultures, they generate higher referral rates and more improvement ideas from employees.”

–James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, and Joe Wheeler, The Ownership Quotient

Chapter Goals

  • Explain how a Culture of Ownership contributes to employee engagement and patient satisfaction, and describe the eight important characteristics of such a culture.

  • Share the implicit contract between the organization and employees that should exist in a Culture of Ownership.

  • Show how to utilize the Culture Mapping Wheel to define specific tactics for promoting a Culture of Ownership.

  • Understand why changing culture is not like turning a battleship.

If you were adding a new wing onto your hospital, you’d have a carefully crafted blueprint defining very specifically the materials required, when and in what order they were to be delivered, how they were to be assembled and by whom, with quality checkpoints at every stage of the process. You certainly wouldn’t order truckloads of steel and cement, electrical transformers and HVAC units, rolls of carpeting and wallpaper, and then piece it all together, making it up as you went along. When it comes to the visible architecture, detailed plans specify the location of every light switch, the width of every door, and the precise dimensions of every room.

But then the Invisible Architecture, which we have said is more important than the bricks and mortar of visible architecture when it comes to employee and patient experience, is often allowed to evolve haphazardly without conscious design. More meticulous attention is paid to selecting floor covering than is given to the attitudes and behaviors that are required to create the desired culture.

A Culture of Ownership seamlessly integrates the three levels of Invisible Architecture: the foundation of core values, the superstructure of organizational culture, and the interior finish of workplace attitude. In a Culture of Ownership, there is no disconnect between the values posted on the wall and the behaviors exhibited on the floor. In this chapter, we share important characteristics of a Culture of Ownership and some of the tools and strategies we have used to build such a culture.


A Culture of Ownership is unlikely to evolve spontaneously, but it can be fostered through deliberate management effort. The following eight characteristics of a Culture of Ownership are included in The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership (Tye, 2020). These eight qualities are an excellent starting point for creating your organization’s Cultural Blueprint.

Commitment: Employees who think like owners are committed to the values, vision, and mission of ...

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