What is a Corporate DNA?
In order for a group to become a team…it needs a common language. In order for a team to become a high performing team…it needs mutual trust. A Corporate DNA provides the ingredients to build and sustain a high performing team over time. It provides the ingredients to create the common language and the mutual trust.
The Corporate DNA provides a space within which all team members cohabit, interact and work towards a common end…whilst preserving individual cultural identities.
And by cultural identities I mean not just one’s national, regional or local culture, but also the local office culture, the culture of being a finance person or a commercial person or a production person, generation culture, gender culture, the culture one acquires through education…both formal and through the school of life, culture born out of successes and failures, out of happiness and sadness, the culture shaped out of achievements, what we experience with friends and enemies, the legacy from our families…both the good, the bad and the ugly, and so much more…
When we talk people, when we talk professionals, when we talk talent…we are talking about this rich complete collection of experiences that we want to preserve, cherish and harness into value creation energy and passion.
What does a Corporate DNA look like?
A Corporate DNA blends eight powerful ingredients to create a common language. It creates a playing field that is embraced by all members of the team. The Corporate DNA becomes the cements upon which the team builds its story. In a matter of speaking, the Corporate DNA is the common thread that runs through all members of the team and creates a unified sense of purpose.
The 8 ingredients of the Corporate DNA are divided into three levels of hierarchy.
The first level sets the cements for understanding and bonding:
Purpose and Strategy – Some may say the first ingredient is a classic…but you need to gather people around a common fire. You need to be able to tell people what the project is all about. What are you trying to achieve? What will the endgame look like? What is the light at the end of the tunnel that you will continue to work towards? In broad lines, what will the end of the road look like? People need to feel the passion and they need to make it their own. You need to tell the story…and then, they need to tell the story…in their own words, with their own anecdotes but, in the end, you will recognize it as the same story…You need to talk value…and to whom. People need to own the purpose and the strategy. If you want them to engage and be passionate about it…they need to make it theirs…they need to own it.
Values and Behaviours – Mutual trust is the key element in building a powerful high performing team. In fact, mutual trust is the key pillar to any relationship. A key ingredient to this Corporate DNA is the adoption of a set of values and behaviours that foster mutual trust in the interactions among the team and with others. But it’s not just about trust…what other values and behaviours need to underpin our relationships in order to facilitate and reinforce the vision we have for this team. A team that shares the same values and behaviours is a team that interacts well together, it’s a team that moves out of its comfort zone, and it’s a team that’s willing to take some risks.
The second level sets the cements for building efficiency into the day-to-day interactions:
Decision Making Model – What filters will be used to make decisions? Time? Fulfilment? Happiness? Inclusion? Money? Efficiency? Quality? Innovation? What will we base our decisions on? How will we make decisions? How will formal and informal decisions be made? By one person? By committee? By consensus? By delegation? Decision making is key in the engagement, empowerment and ownership of team members.
Conflict Management and Innovation Model – Conflict is both necessary and desirable. It is an integral part of the team’s daily life and it is key to stimulate creativity and innovation. Conflict moves us “out of the box”…it helps us to shift and transform paradigms…it makes us question the status quo…it puts the “…what if” questions on the table. However, human beings tend to personalize conflict and see it as negative personal criticism. There need to be some clear rules of engagement to generate the desirable environment to promote constructive conflict within the team. The team also needs rules of engagement to engage in productive conflict with its broader business ecosystem.
The third level sets the cements for building communication and understanding:
Leadership Model – We manage things. We lead people. Management is a science and it has clear and defined rules. Leadership, on the other hand, is an art. Since leadership is about people and people are unstable, we need adaptive leadership styles to deal with instability and fast changing complex business ecosystems. There will be various types of leaders within the team and there will be more than one leadership style available to deal with the multiple situations that arise. What will those leadership styles be? And how do we make them ours and fully connect with these models…Leadership, passion and engaging people’s hearts and minds go hand-in-hand…
Diversity Model – There is tremendous power in diversity…and yet, in organizations (as in society), we seem to react uncomfortably to anything that falls outside the norm. However, in a world of complex business ecosystems shifting and evolving at the speed of light, we should be welcoming diversity and all of its power and energy to innovate and seek out answers to new challenges. Cultural diversity, gender diversity, racial diversity, generational diversity, skill and knowledge diversity, technological diversity, etc.…etc.…we need to preserve and utilize all of this diversity to contribute to the success of the team. Unfortunately, many times we tend to want to normalize a team…we want everyone to look the same, to smell the same, to act the same…and we loose the power of diversity. So, how will we harness the power of diversity to add value and contribute to the team’s success? How will we ensure that all the team members feel valued and feel like they’re contributing from within their rich and diverse experience and background?
Communication Model – Internal and external communication…formal and informal communication. Communication is another powerful element in building trust. Clarity, transparency, timely, simple and accessible…these are some of the words that come to mind wen we think of trust and communication. The team will be constantly communicating…so, communication is a key ingredient in the team’s Corporate DNA. What ingredients will be key to the way in which the team will communicate, both within and outside the team?
Relationship Model – Relationships are important…and within a team they’re really not optional. Trust is a key element of relationships. The team will operate within a complex business ecosystem. Relationships mean different things to different people in different places. However, there is one thing that people operating in a business ecosystem share…they all understand that we are interdependent. The team and its members will build fluid relationships that will shift over time. From competitive to collaborative. From suppliers to advisors. From clients to partners. etc…etc…we need a relationship model that is trust based, that evolves over time and that allows for the flexibility of fast changing business ecosystems.