The Barrett Model


– By Ellen Robinson

TEAM Performances believes that organizations thrive when leaders are focused on building values-driven cultures that create a win-win for their people, customers, shareholders, and society. The Barrett Model is the gold standard in culture assessment tools in measuring an organization’s culture. When you measure your culture, you can manage it. This model makes the intangible tangible and it can be applied to all types of organizations — corporations, non-profits, governmental departments, boards, municipal agencies, institutions, and educational establishments.

The Barrett Model places focus on the whole needs of organizations. The seven levels focus on the needs associated with each level. Below, a graphic of the Barrett Model is followed by detailed descriptions of each level and how it is used within organizations.

Barrett Model

Level 1: Viability

Finance and investor focus

The first need for an organization is its viability. Profit and cash flow are the keys to helping any organization sustain itself. One success indicator is a healthy focus on the bottom‐line. Others include employee health and employee safety.

There are some cases where companies are too focused on money. This can lead to an unhealthy short‐term focus on returns or shareholder value. In addition, it can also lead to over-control, caution, and a tendency to be risk-averse.

Organizations that experience their deepest anxiety at this level can be turned around!

Level 2: Relationships

Employee and customer focus

Organizations need to foster healthy interpersonal relationships and excellent internal communications. To thrive here, it is imperative to maintain quality relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers.

Indicators of health are employees who experience a sense of belonging through open communication, mutual respect for each other, employee recognition, friendliness, and the knowledge of being heard. When these are in place, loyalty and satisfaction among employees and customers skyrocket.

When leaders fail to communicate openly, employees lose trust and create a reality not aligned with the organization’s mission. Divisive environments are created when leaders display territorial behaviors, create unhealthy internal competition, and participate in blame or information hoarding.

Fostering and nurturing healthy relationships maximize effectiveness at this level.

Level 3: Performance

Results focus

The focus of this level is on performance, efficiency, and key operational indicators.

At this level, the organization works to become the best version of itself by creating and adopting best practices with a clear, unified focus on quality and productivity. This involves the creation of systems and processes to achieve desired results.

Organizations that are overly focused on this level can fall into silos, rigid bureaucracies, and top‐down decision‐making regimes. It can be comprised of groups of internally competitive overachievers who are often looking out for their own success.

Level 4: Evolution

Change and growth focus

By harnessing the elements of Evolution, your organization can be more adaptable to change. A key success indicator is creating situations where employees can take risks and focus on innovation so that new products and services can be developed to respond to market opportunities. This requires the organization to be agile, flexible and go for it. Teamwork and diversity are encouraged. An important component of this level is an environment where everyone believes their voice is heard. Employees are given more accountability and the opportunity to be empowered while on a continuous learning pathway.

Leaders are open to new ideas and harness the power of all employees.

Level 5: Alignment

Character focus

Having people live their authentic selves is the focus of this level. This is an essential ingredient in order to create an environment of trust and cooperation. The values of honesty, integrity, passion, commitment, and creativity live at this level.

This is where work is fun while employees learn from their mistakes and grow to new heights.

Level 6: Collaboration

Community focus

The focus here is on creating collaboration and community both internally and externally. Employees connect across divisions, feel a sense of fulfillment, and become the best versions of themselves through mentoring, talent and leadership development.

A key indicator of success at this level is when employees and customers together experience the organization making a difference either through its products and services, or perhaps through volunteer involvement in the local community.

Level 7: Contribution

Purpose focus

The focus is an organization’s contribution to the world. At this level, organizations develop their legacy for humanity on a local, national, or global level. A leader at this level fosters an ethical environment.

Level 7 is about developing a deep sense of caring and social responsibility throughout the organization.

A key indicator for success at this level is service above self and is displayed through commitment to the common good and to the well-being of future generations.

Ultimately, it is up to the leaders to encourage and support employees in bringing their best selves to work. This is a fundamental factor in determining the organization’s level of success. TEAM Performance helps your leaders and organization expand and thrive. Success starts by managing and measuring your organization’s most precious resources: its people and culture.

I look forward to the opportunity to be of service to you and your organization. You can reach me at to learn how you can bring this into your organization.


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