Wednesday Work Wisdom: Your Organization is a Cult

January 30, 2013  

Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that opposites repel. The reality is, like attracts like.

As a result, your organization has a bunch of people who think the same way.

People have personalities, and so do organizations. Many would call this their culture. This is an appropriate word since it is related to the word “cult.” Everyone in your organization most likely fits the mold.

There are four primary organizational personalities:

  • Analytical: Organizations that value expertise and intelligence, like pharmaceutical companies, research labs (like NASA), and many financial institutions.
  • Results-Oriented: Organizations that value the bottom line, quarterly earnings results, and stock price like large, publicly traded organizations.
  • People-Centered: Organizations that value relationships and their impact on society, like non-profits and NGOs.
  • Creative: Organizations that value imagination and ingenuity, like advertising/branding agencies and some entrepreneurial start-ups.

The key word in each description above is “value.”

The personality of your organization is not determined by the work you do, the industry you are in, or the people you hire. It is determined by what is valued.

Ask yourself which of the attributes above – analysis, results, people, or creativity – is valued the most. Don’t just look at your performance management system.

What is truly valued, when push comes to shove, by your leadership? Who really gets promoted? What always gets recognized and rewarded?

Here’s the important point…

*** Your organization’s personality will give you a hint at what is not valued. ***

This is your organization’s innovation blind spot. Non-profits are notorious for not valuing traditional business lessons. Large corporations are known for not truly appreciating creative individuals who think differently.

In order to innovate more effectively, you need to first identify your innovation blind spot – what is not valued – and make a concerted effort to encourage these people, behaviors, and activities.

Although your organization will have a single personality, you need to be adept at all four sets of innovation skills.

P.S. Personality Poker is a great tool for identifying your innovation personality and specific innovation blind spots.

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One Response to “Wednesday Work Wisdom: Your Organization is a Cult”

  1. Are You Playing With a Full Deck? | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro on March 6th, 2013 6:09 pm

    [...] As a result, organizations naturally homogenize around one particular style.  (See my article, “Your Organizations is a Cult” for more on [...]