Anyone who’s celebrated a significant work anniversary knows just how a company can change over the years—who has a seat at the table, what customers expect, the most coveted skills. But there’s just as much that stays the same: what your brand stands for, the shared lexicon, your unique culture. We use the term organizational DNA as a metaphor for the underlying organizational and cultural design factors that define an organization’s personality and determine whether it is strong or weak in executing strategy. (See Exhibit 1.)
This year marks the 10th anniversary of our work on organizational DNA. Since our first article in 2004, we’ve analyzed more than 220,000 online surveys in which people describe their company’s personality and performance. Amid the turbulence of changing business environments and personnel, 10 precepts have remained useful, for empowering people and unlocking any organization’s potential.
1. There are only a few organizational personality types. Every company may seem unique, but in their enterprise-wide behavior, they fall into just seven behavioral patterns (in order from the least to most effective at execution): passive-aggressive, overmanaged, outgrown, fits-and-starts, just-in-time, military-precision, and resilient.