Organizational DNA : Leveraging Your Culture to Drive Sustained Success

Jan 25, 2024 | Organizational Self-Awareness

Just as human DNA contains a set of instructions for how people function, organizational DNA contains instructions for how organizations perform. It’s the blueprint for your company culture – the genetic code that helps leaders create environments that engage, align, and influence people to get things done. And, if your organization isn’t performing the way it needs to, strengthening your organizational DNA is quite possible. In fact, that is what we help companies do. For over 25 years we have been helping companies identify and narrow gaps in their DNA to improve strategy execution and performance.


Two Companies With The Same Strategic Goal But Different DNA.

The two companies had the same goal, but with the insights our data provided, they devised very different action plans to successfully achieve that goal.

We worked with two companies that needed to grow revenue. However, to do so they needed to alter their organizational DNA in different ways. While Company A wanted to keep the essence of their current culture as they grew, Company B wanted to grow by creating a more innovative, creative culture. Each company understood their own DNA – how their employees perceived how they should behave. Company A knew their culture supported their strategy and the other knew it didn’t.

They had the same goal, but with the insights our data provided, they devised very different action plans to successfully achieve that goal. Our data showed Company A how to grow in a way that did not adversely affect their culture. We showed company B specific levers they could use to alter their culture in a way that encouraged and supported innovation and risk taking. In both cases, their actions were based on data about their unique cultures, not a homogenized set of data based on other companies.

How We Are Different: The Limitations of Benchmarking.

Arecent Bain Management Tools & Trends Survey found that benchmarking is the third most often used management tool world-wide. (Bain & Company, Management Tools & Trends By Darrell Rigby and Barbara Bilodeau, April 05, 2018.) Yet, in the same survey, companies rated their satisfaction with benchmarking as below average. The study concluded that benchmarking “may need substantial improvement.”


Benchmarking is an effective tool in many situations, but not when it comes to knowing how to alter your unique organizational DNA. The chart below indicates some of the reasons organizational-DNA-led change is more effective that benchmarking-led change.

Organizational-DNA-Led Change
Based on your unique organizational DNA
Based on your strategic objectives
Based on your unique competitive dynamics
Looks at what will work in future
Enables you to look at yourself
Adjusts approach as you learn from experience
Uses your knowledge of your company
Benchmarking-Led Change
Based on average DNA of others
Based on comparison to 100s of other strategies
Based on others’ dynamics
Looks at what worked in past
Enables you to look at others
Guesses what adjustments others made
Relies on comparison to average



Why We Get Results Others Do Not.

Unlike most consulting firms, we do not base our insights and action options on benchmarking data. Benchmarking others in your industry can be quite helpful in setting your strategy. How influencing and aligning your people so they effectively implement your strategy needs to be based on your unique organizational DNA. You need to know how your people perceive how they are expected to execute your strategy.

How will you
differentiate yourself
from your competitors
if you copy them?

We are different because we understand you are different from everyone else. How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors if you copy them? You need to understand your DNA before you can know what to alter and what to keep. Otherwise, you will get what everyone else gets – 75% chance your change initiative will fail.

We show you what works for you. By showing you how the different aspects of your operating culture interact with each other and impact your strategy execution, we provide tailored insights that provide sustained success.

How We Do It.

Our process includes:

  1. Using a 15-minute survey to reveal any gaps between your current organizational DNA and the DNA you say you need to be successful in the future.
  2. Co-creating, with you, tailored actions you can take to leverage you DNA to close any gaps.
  3. Re-measure your DNA to explore progress and to make any adjustments that are needed.

To learn more about our process and how we can partner with you to vastly improve your ability to execute the strategy please contact:

Dr. Miles Overholt

 [email protected]


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