Gustavus, Pamela


The Riemann-Thomann Model in Organizational Development

After reading it on our blog, "The Riemann Thomann Model", which was already recently about the Riemann-Thomann model for the assessment of personal needs according to duration, change, distance and proximity, today we want to present another possible application of the model.

The preferences that an individual person has can also be easily transferred to a larger group of people. The Riemann-Thomann model can thus also be applied in the context of team and organizational development.

Corporate culture and work results

Just as a single person can be a permanent type, an entire company can also be characterized by this quality. This has both advantages and disadvantages: a corporate culture characterized by duration usually produces consistently high work results. Values such as structure, clear responsibilities, reliability, consistency and security are upheld here. In such companies, you can count on a good and structured induction, often there are manuals, induction plans and accurately documented processes.

However, if there is no balance in the culture in the form of change, there is a risk that there will be a lack of creative freedom, a will to innovate and a willingness to take risks. A fear of new things can spread, which prevents further development and creativity, in the worst case, a rigid bureaucratism arises.

Change culture in the company

On the other hand, if we are dealing with a culture of change in the company, there is a great willingness for change, improvisation, development and future orientation. Those who work here are usually flexible, creative and fast. It is usually about a network culture and often about project work.

If the compensation of the permanent component is missing here, chaos, superficial work, excessive demands and processes that are not thought out to the end can occur. The work becomes unstructured, there are no clear guidelines and no routines or sustainable results can be established. Creative chaos is also chaos.

Distance culture

If we are dealing with a distance culture, values such as performance, efficiency, competition, result orientation and hierarchies are in the foreground. People have to perform well here, results are usually clearly measurable. This type of corporate culture can be found in many sales organizations that work with targets and key figures. Goals are not only agreed here, but also followed up.

If the balance is missing here again due to the proximity pole, the individual person goes down. The individual becomes interchangeable and does not feel connected to the company. Independence can turn into a detachment – just a distance, a single-mindedness.


The opposite of this is the proximity culture: here, community, appreciation, relationship orientation and harmony are given great importance. In such teams there are often joint activities after work, good and friendly relations between the team members are welcome and encouraged. What certainly sounds very positive for many people for the first time also carries some risks. If the balance in the form of the distance pole is missing here, professional and private things mix too much, which in turn makes factual work, constructive criticism, leadership and demarcation very difficult. Private topics and smoldering conflicts can cost a lot of energy here, which is then missing for work. The desired harmonious working atmosphere can lead to a certain harmony constraint.

Just as it is beneficial for the individual when the poles are balanced, so it is in the company. The saying "Too much of a good thing is usually bad" fits here. Do you recognize your work environment?

With its help, you can determine which form is the predominant one in your current working environment. In individual coaching, this method can be used to work out which culture you feel comfortable in and which culture you don't. The model for organizational development is at least as interesting.

Are you running a team and feel like you're stuck? The desired work results are missing? Do your employees not (anymore) identify with the company and its goals? There is a lot of friction loss due to personal conflicts? Do your employees complain about under- or over-demand?

The fluctuation is increasing, the sick leave is also increasing? It is likely that the balance between the poles of proximity and distance or between the manifestations of change and duration will then be missing. Then a team coaching can be a good step for more success, satisfaction, clarity and further development. Together we will investigate where the balance has been lost and develop measures to restore it so that you and your team can get back to work motivated and committed.

You don't want to let it get that far in the first place? Even then, team coaching can be a very meaningful thing for you and your team: for maintaining and strengthening good employee loyalty and identification, a positive working atmosphere and the nice feeling for each individual team member to be the right person in the right place.