Thursday, December 13, 2007

Corporate DNA

Hsien-Hsien is frequently asking 'What's in your DNA?', and a correspondent of mine recently pointed out that "it's in our DNA" is becoming a bit of a corporate cliche. Indeed, there is at least one TV advertising campaign on those lines, though the ad writers would be disappointed to find out I can't name the company.

Now, I'm not always responsive to suggestions for blog posts, but since the writer shares both my mitochondrial & Y-chromosome genotypes, I was more easily swayed.

The question posed is this: what do companies asking this really mean, or more specifically what might it mean that they don't intend (very Dilbert-esque). Presumably they are trying to make a statement about deeply embedded values, but what does it really mean to have something in your DNA? For example, do they mean to imply:

  • A lot of our company is unfathomable to the human mind

  • There's a lot of redundancy here

  • Often we often repeat ourselves often repeatedly, often repeating repetitiously.

  • We retain bits of those who invade our corporate DNA, though with not much rhyme or reason

  • A lot of pieces of the organization resemble decayed portions of other pieces of our organization

  • Some pieces of our organization are non-functional, though they closely resemble functional pieces of related organizations

  • Most of our organization has no immediate impact on routine operations, or emergency ones

  • Most of our organization has no immediate obvious purpose, if any

  • Our corporate practices are not the best designable, but rather reflect an accumulation of historical accidents

Now, many of these statements may well be true about a given company, but is that what you really want to project?

What's in my company's DNA? Well, that's easy -- it's what the customer ordered! :-)


Paul Nelson said...

The human genome is huge - and so for comparisons, I think you need to look at huge companies - say Pfeiser, for example. In a very dilbert like way, there are many Wallies in that company, who do nothing, but take up space, or slow things down. Company members can become jaded, and disruptive - like cancer. Yes indeed, the analogy may be a lot closer to the truth than anyone intended.

Anonymous said...

How about,
'Our organization requires thousands of years to change in any significant manner'!

Anonymous said...

intelligently designed?