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Monday, October 17, 2005

Organizational DNA and Unlocking Great Performance

The big management book for the fall appears to be Results: Keep What's Good, Fix What's Wrong, and Unlock Great Performance.

Gary Neilson from Booz Allen makes the case that companies have personalities or "Organizational DNA". He says it is important to understand the business' DNA before you can optimize performance.

An organization's DNA is made up of four building blocks—decision rights, information, motivators, and structure—and this largely determine how a firm looks and behaves, both
internally and externally.

Based on these four building blocks, Neilson profiles organizations into one of seven broad types—four unhealthy, and three healthy:

Passive-Aggressive. “Everyone agrees, but nothing changes.”

Fits-and-Starts. “Let 1,000 flowers bloom."

Outgrown. “The good old days meet a brave new world.”

Overmanaged. “We’re from corporate, and we’re here to help.”

Just-in-Time. “Succeeding by the skin of our teeth”

Military Precision. “Flying in formation”

Resilient. “As good as it gets” This is the organization that inspires both awe and envy . . . because everything seems to come so easily to it: profits, talent, respect. Like the popular kid in high school who got all As and lettered in track, the Resilient organization seems destined for greatness; it fires on all cylinders. Resilient organizations are flexible, forward looking, and fun, and they attract team players. While it may hit a bump in the road—as all companies do—the Resilient organization bounces back immediately, having learned from the experience. The Resilient organization is the healthiest of all the profiles, precisely because it doesn’t believe its own press; rather, it is always scanning the horizon for the next competitive battle or market innovation.

You can download the TOC and first chapter here.

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