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“Inspired Company Culture” and Corporate DNA

Recently, several of my clients have become extremely interested in exploring what they call their “corporate DNA.” At first I resisted, because I was concerned that this metaphor implied that they were incapable of changing. But for the most part, this model is being used to explore the unique identity of an organization — the historical strengths that are admired, and should be preserved and transmitted to future generations.

Most every kid who has the luxury of getting an education learns the basics of DNA. DNA is what causes a giraffe to have a long neck, kangaroos to have pouches, and porcupines to have quills instead of fur. Tadpoles turn into frogs, not butterflies, because of their DNA. And a lot of behavior has its roots in an organism’s DNA. Birds have wings, but dogs don’t, therefore dogs don’t fly. Snakes, lacking both legs and wings, resort to crawling. But what is the meaning of the DNA of an organization?

If you look up “corporate DNA” on Wikipedia you’ll be redirected to an article on “organizational culture.” Scroll down to the next section to see how organizational culture and cultural DNA are related.

Each organization has historical DNA that contributed to its present culture, and influences its future possibilities.
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