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The FIBS ROCK Model of Organisational Culture / Leadership Behaviours


Think about the culture of your organisation.  Where you would position people’s behaviour on a spectrum between two extremes? At one end is FIBS behaviour and at the other is ROCK.

In FIBS cultures, people are rewarded when they Flatter anyone who might be useful to them, Inflate their own contribution to a successful project, Break commitments to all but “important” people and Scapegoat others. 

By contrast in ROCK cultures a different set of values is encouraged.  People Respect others, Own their part when problems occur, Credit other people for their contributions and Keep commitments or when they can’t be kept make sure that people are informed as to why.  Do you think your culture is more FIBS or ROCK?

We can now say that ROCK behaviours are the foundation of great organisations but just what is the evidence? 

One important piece of evidence comes from the work of Jim Collins author of “Good to Great.” Collins and his team took five years to examine nearly 1500 organisations to answer the question; what makes a good organisation a great organisation?  Of the 1500 examined he found only eleven that could be called great.  These eleven organisations had outstanding results that were sustained for at least fifteen consecutive years. 

What made these organisations great?  Collins found that in every case the leaders who were midwives to the period of greatness showed a combination of humility and fierce resolve.  Humility fostered highly collaborative cultures.  When you tease out the behaviours described by Collins it becomes clear that the CEOs of the eleven great companies displayed ROCK behaviours to a high degree. 

Collins then points out that the first step all of the eleven CEOs took was to . . “get the right people in the right seats on the bus.”   The FIBS ROCK model is helpful here because getting the right people in the right seats had the effect of shifting the culture of the executive to high ROCK.

It is commonly found that when groups engage in high ROCK behaviour FIBS behaviour is minimised and group functioning is maximised.   This underscores the wisdom of the CEO’s first move.   Once they had assembled a high ROCK group they could begin working as a real team where the focus was on ensuring the success of the organisation.  It meant that their planning would have a high degree of involvement, engagement and ownership thereby significantly increasing the likelihood of success. 

Note: The model suggests that FIBS and ROCK behaviours are dependent variables, ie high ROCK behaviours are associated with low FIBS behaviours.  Whilst in practice this is mostly true – and makes the model very useful - strictly speaking the FIBS ROCK behaviours are only partly dependent.   In other words it is possible though uncommon for a person to be both high ROCK and high FIBS at the same time.  

You can contrast a high ROCK team with that of a group containing a mixture of FIBS:ROCK players. The ROCK people will be wary of their FIBS colleagues.  Just as the FIBS people will be wary of the ROCKS.  As a general rule whenever you have FIBS people any strategic planning will always be shaped by personal agendas.   

Here is passage from ‘The AGE’ published in 1999 that illustrates what many believe is still common.
 ‘You don’t necessarily get to the top by being a nice guy,’ said former National Mutual CEO and Sausage Software Chairman Gil Hoskins.  'The art of undermining competitors remains rife in the workplace.  This can range from, "I think he'd be great for the job BUT" to the strategic raising of an eyebrow.’  

The FIBS ROCK model also helps to explain two other interesting pieces of data from Collins’ research. 

First, ten of the eleven were internal appointments.  This is a very significant finding.  The FIBS ROCK model implies that if you are an internal appointed CEO you are more likely to know who is FIBS and who is ROCK than an externally appointed CEO. 

Second, many people were head hunted into other organisations for example nine people from Wells Fargo were recruited into senior positions within Bank of America.  Despite recruiting these high ROCK people into the senior ranks of the organisation the Bank of America results did not take off like a good to great company. The FIBS ROCK model suggests that it is only when all of the executive become high ROCK that transformation has a chance.       

The FIBS ROCK model is one of the models developed by Dr Peter Rennie of Leadership Australia.   In other articles you can see how FIBS behaviour is endemic to pyramidal leadership and pyramidal structures and ROCK behaviour is fostered by Parabolic Leadership and parabolic structures.  About Us/Our Unique Concepts/Parabolic Leadership/ 

If you would like to know more about the FIBS ROCK model please contact