Is there a limit to metaphors? Why is it that suddenly, big corporations are sequencing their “company genome” and are looking at their “Corporate DNA”, as if their culture had anything to do with genetics?
Well, let’s try and answer this, and start with the beginning, the fundamentals: who’s Dad? Who’s Mom? How did it go? Did it happen in summer in the Bahamas? Are they still together? In other words, is the post-merger new conglomerate some new kind of zygote that should be analyzed and understood through biological concepts and tools? Are we talking about procreation, are we talking about species and evolutions, what are we talking about, in fact…
It seems to me that we’re talking about some cultural characteristics of any company, or organization, and how these characteristics can oppose “change” and “adaptation”, or on the other hand accelerate them. I can understand that there is a real interest in looking at “who we are” and “where do we come from” in order to know what is to be changed. And, pushing the metaphor a bit forward, what kind of genetic mutation should be accomplished.
This is where Corporate DNA hits a limit. Genetic mutations probability is extremely low (1/106), and mutations agents are quite difficult to monitor. Frequency is extremely low as well. So much for “change in all what we do”…
So why is it that such an awkward concept can, not only exist, but convince serious and rational top managers discussing their company personality and cultural drivers? My conviction is “packaging”. Let’s use a concept that “sounds” scientific. It will be more convincing than traditional Organization Development or Sociology methods and tools, all considered a bit “soft”.
It’s always a surprise to me how we can fool ourselves with such strategies. As we say, “il faut appeler un chat un chat“. Making explicit how any company’s Culture and Values have shaped what it is today, based on its own history, hasn’t got anything to do with genetics. Managing change is no genetic manipulation, but is all about leadership. Our CBF (Culture Bridging Fundamentals) tool has proven a unique and effective tool to help companies better understand what they should “stop doing, start doing and continue doing” so has to respond to their changing environment, and not being trapped in their own past.
And therefore, monitor their destiny.