What is the Clan or Collaborative Culture in Franchising?

After providing a brief thought on the assessment component of Culture I was asked by a couple of franchisors to provide some detail on the 4 standard types of culture. These four cultures are the Collaborative Culture, the Creative Culture, the Competitive Culture and the Control Culture.

Rather than trying to produce something meaningful on all four, I decided to provide some specific information, in short form, on each one individually. The first culture model we’ll discuss is The Clan or the Collaborative Culture.

The Clan is the Collaborative Culture. It is oriented toward being family-like, with a focus on mentoring, nurturing, and “doing things together.”

In the values matrix Collaborate (clan) are similar to Control (hierarchy) in that there is an inward focus with concern for integration. However, Collaborate (clan) emphasize flexibility and discretion rather than the stability and control of Control (hierarchy) and Compete (market) organizations.

With the success of many Japanese firms in the late 1970s and 1980s, American corporations began to take note of the different way they approached business. Unlike American national culture, which is founded upon individualism, Japanese firms had a more team-centered approach.

This basic understanding affected the way that Japanese companies structured their companies and approached problems their Collaborate (clan) organizations operated more like families—hence the name—and they valued cohesion, a humane working environment, group commitment, and loyalty.

Companies were made up of semi-autonomous teams that had the ability to hire and fire their own members and employees were encouraged to participate in determining how things would get done.

A good example of a Collaborate (clan) in American business is Tom’s of Maine, which produces all-natural toothpastes, soaps, and other hygiene products. The founder, Tom Chappell, grew the company to respect relationships with coworkers, customers, owners, agents, suppliers, the community, and the environment. A similar model is found at Zappos Shoes.

According to their company statement of beliefs, Tom’s aims to provide their employees with “a safe and fulfilling environment and an opportunity to grow and learn.” Typical of Collaborate (clan) cultures, Tom’s of Maine, is like an extended family with high morale and Tom himself takes on the role of mentor or parental figure (Four Organizational Culture Types, Bruce Tharp).

  • Teamwork
  • Strong relationships based on trust and openness
  • People development through coaching, feedback, learning and development
  • Collaboration with colleagues and the community at large
  • Caring for others in a compassionate and empathic way

Collaborative Cultures find the leadership very much hands-on and intimate. They tend to be flatter organizations. They are Lead by Example – Benefit the Individual – Strategy before Technology – Laissez-Faire Management – Strong two-way Communications – “New” is integrated into the existing workflow – Supportive and Measure Only What Matters. 

It is natural that Clans need patience and persistence. They tend to adapt and evolve. They are organizations where mistakes are viewed as a way of better understanding process and product.

Organizations that are clan-based typically are also often altruistically values driven. For them, perhaps the most important principle of collaboration is that it can make the world a better place. Sure, collaboration can make our employee more productive and benefit our customers.

But, collaboration also allows employees to feel more connected to their jobs and co-workers, reduces stress at the workplace, makes their jobs easier, allows for more work freedom, and in general makes them happier people. This means less stress at home, less arguments with spouses, and more time to spend with loved ones. Collaboration not only positively impacts the lives of employees at work but also at home.

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