Option Software Inc. Organizational Culture

Option Software Inc. Organizational Culture

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Option Software Inc. Organizational Culture

Optio Software Inc. provides software solutions that enable organizations to increase speed, accuracy, functionality and quality in their document processes. These processes include procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, manufacturing and various healthcare processes.
The company was founded in 1981 as Technology Marketing, Inc. and later changed its name to Xpoint Corporation. Xpoint developed FormsXPress, one of the industry's first leading forms automation products. In 1997, Xpoint changed its name to Optio Software, Inc. During the next year, it established a European subsidiary in Paris. Since then, Optio has established branch sales offices in the United Kingdom and Germany.

According to the Organization Culture Inventory (OCI); Optio Software Inc. has an overall Passive/Defensive Style. This Cultural Style is geared towards Promoting People/Security Behaviors. During this analysis, Optio's most influential cultural traits included Approval, Competitiveness, Convention and Dependence.

According to OCI Descriptions, "an Approval culture frequently avoids conflicts and interpersonal relationships are pleasant--at least superficially. Members feel that they should agree with, gain the approval of, and be liked by others." As an employee of Optio Software, I see the effects of this Cultural trait everyday. There seems to be a sense of fear to disagree with "system" at Optio. Employees have concerns but there is no constructive method of voicing these concerns available. Frequently, employees are prompted to submit ideas and recommendations for change and improvement, by these requests are usually not met, due to the Approval Culture that exists with Optio. Employees are not willing to face the repercussions of going against the "system."

The second highest OCI trait of Optio Software was Competitiveness; located within the Aggressive/Defensive Styles. According to the OCI Descriptions, "A Competitive culture is one in which winning is valued and members are rewarded for outperforming one another. Members operate in a "win-lose" framework and believe they must work against (rather than with) their peers to be noticed. (Turn the job into a contest; never appear to lose)"

I believe this trait is destructive to the work environment at Optio Software. This particular culture was implemented by a VP of Sales. Although this organizational trait maybe successful in Sales, it is not conducive to the growth of an Information Technology Team. Frequently, Sales Personnel work alone with an objective to individually meet a particular amount of revenue dictated by a Sales Manager. However, in I/T, employees frequently work together to accomplish team goals set by a manager.

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Therefore, having a competitive organization trait in a team oriented environment can be very destructive towards meeting a particular team goal.

The conventional culture also ranked high for Optio Software. According to the OCI description, "a Conventional culture is descriptive of organizations that are conservative, traditional, and bureaucratically controlled. Members are expected to conform, follow the rules, and make a good impression." Optio definitely has a mold they would like their employees to fit into. It is very recognizable that if an individual fits a particular mold, they will be put in situations where they will advance within the company. This is something I learned early on, when I witnessed an employee not as qualified as others, advance to the Optio Consulting group, which is similar to a corporate fraternity. This individual fit a particular mold that Optio prefers. In essence, fitting into Optio's cultural mold is more powerful than obtaining valuable skill sets.
Finally, the Dependent culture also ranked high in the OCI results for Optio Software. According to the OCI descriptions, "a dependent culture is descriptive of organizations that are hierarchically controlled and do not empower their members. Centralized decision making in such organizations leads members to do only what they are told and to clear all decisions with superiors."
I have witnessed this cultural trait though Optio's I/T management team. Although there are two Technical Support teams, which individual managers, most of the decision-making comes from the director of Information Technology, Mark Webb. Although Mark is the director of I/T, which encompasses a variety of support teams, consulting and various management teams; he is frequently, too involved in decision making for I/T Support Managers. At times, members of I/T Support forget that we have a manager, or view Mark as our manager because he makes most of the decisions. This prevents our manager, Rene Coney, from making managerial decisions. As the description of dependence mentions, Optio tends to be hierarchically controlled and does not empower its members.
OCI Norms Ideal
Score Current
Score Gap*
78% 78% 0%
Self-Actualizing 82% 70% 12%
Humanistic 85% 75% 10%
Affiliative 71% 47% 24%

27% 94% -67%
Conventional 18% 92% -74%
Dependent 24% 92% -68%
Avoidance 27% 91% -64%

45% 56% -11%
Power 30% 90.5% -65%
Competitive 42% 92% -50%
Perfectionist 25% 87% -62%

According to the OCI results, the largest gaps and targets for cultural change at Optio Software is Approval, Dependence and Power. As mentioned above Approval is one of the highest cultural trends at Optio software. Since approval is so highly regarded at Optio Software, the corporate culture is not genuine. Employees perform and act the way they are expected to act in order to maintain employment. This environment results in high employee turnover. In addition, changes that would affect corporate culture are rarely invoked because employees are not motivated to help invoke change due to the high-level of bureaucracy that exists at Optio Software.

Another area in need of cultural change at Optio is dependency. As I mentioned above, Optio does not allow its managers to make enough decisions. A director of I/T should not be making decisions that should be made by a Support team manager. This will prevent a manager from having respect and confidence from his/her employees. It's difficult for someone's employees to genuinely respect them, if that manager has no decision making power.

Finally, power is another culture gap that needs to be changed. According to the OCI results, "Power is descriptive of nonparticipative organizations structured on the basis of the authority inherent in members' positions. Members believe they will be rewarded for taking charge, controlling subordinates and, at the same time, being responsive to the demands of superiors." At Optio software, executive management leads their employee with the assumption that they will be rewarded by taking charge, controlling subordinates and being responsive to the demands of superiors. Unfortunately, during the process of controlling subordinates, it is not uncommon to be disrespected by a manager. It is also not uncommon to hear the use of profanity to emphasize a point. Executive management tends to lead employees by fear, more so than respect. This is an area than could use a cultural adjustment

There are various benefits that can be achieved by invoking cultural change at Optio Software. Namely, some of the main issues at Optio are high employee turnover and lack of genuine corporate culture that positively motivates employees to want to work at Optio. Making adjustments to the areas that have the largest cultural gaps will have a positive impact on the culture at Optio software. By changing the perception of Approval at Optio, employees will be motivated to be themselves, while working at Optio. In other words, they will not be negatively viewed or help back for not fitting into a particular "mold." This will show employees that Optio is more concerned with work performance than image, which will increase employee motivation to be apart of the Optio Culture.

Also, by allowing managers to invoke decision-making power, will not only allow managers to gain respect from employees, it will distinctly outline the organizational chart to be used on a regular basis. This will allow directors to focus on issues pertaining to director and so forth. The company will be much more efficient if decision-making is more spread out throughout the company.

Finally, executive management should set the precedence on how Optio should lead its employees. If it is acceptable for a VP to use profanity towards an employee or to yell and scream; why would it be unacceptable for a Support manager to do the same? Management in general should treat employees the way that they would like to be treated. More importantly, Optio should outline acceptable and unacceptable management practices. This will result in mutual respect between employee and management which will help to improve Optio's Corporate Culture.

During this assignment, I learned how to take a particular corporate culture and place a quantitative value on it. By reviewing the corporate culture at Optio Software, I learned that Optio's corporate culture is very passive and defensive. More specifically, Optio places a lot of focus on Approval, Competition, Convention, and Dependency. By analyzing these key traits, I was able to determine why Optio has its current culture and I gave recommendations that could help to close cultural gaps. This exercise is valuable to my personal development because it will allow me to identify and examine corporate culture in the future. By having the ability to identify and examine a company's corporate culture, I will be able to effectively work within it or invoke cultural change.
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