What is Your Organization’s Personality?

Just like every individual team member, manager, and executive in your company, the organization itself has a unique personality. Sometimes, in dealing with people, this overarching personality factor gets overlooked. But after over ten years of working with companies of all sizes, we’ve come to appreciate the importance of understanding and accepting your organizational personality if you hope to make real progress toward organizational agility.

Risk Aversion vs. Innovation

One of the biggest personality-based discrepancies we run into revolves around companies who want to be innovative, but who are, in fact, quite risk averse.

While the idea of being innovative is on every CEO’s list of objectives, maintaining a financially secure and predictable environment is also high on that list. The larger the company, the more risk averse they tend to be, which makes sense since a large corporation has potentially thousands of stakeholders with a vested interest in seeing the company remain financially healthy.

On the other hand, a small and nimble startup really doesn’t need to pay much attention to avoiding risk. They’re risking everything just getting started and innovation is key to success.

In many cases these conflicting drivers – innovation and risk aversion – are naturally balanced by the growth strategies adopted by companies as they mature. For example, Twitter made different decisions back in 2006 when it was essentially a great idea on a piece of notebook paper than it does now as a publicly traded company with a valuation in the tens of billions.

And that’s ok. Twitter actually continues to innovate despite become necessarily more averse to risk than it once was. But that balance isn’t easy for every company to reach.

More often, as a company grows and takes on more vested stakeholders, the wheels of innovation turn more slowly – or even grind to a halt – in favor of slow and steady growth, smart and safe strategy, and a long-term outlook.

And that’s ok too. There are companies who have been around for over a century based on this safe pattern.

How Your Company’s Personality Affects Its Agility

When it comes to going Agile, which is where cPrime usually enters the picture. The CEO of that large, established corporation who wants to be innovative will often express interest in going Agile to support that goal.

And they’re right: adopting Agile methodologies will most likely promote innovation in their organization, or at least make innovative solutions more attainable for their development teams.

Here’s the problem.

If that CEO doesn’t realize his company’s personality is actually risk averse, they could be heading toward failure without even realizing it.

It’s our job to point that out, and it can sometimes be a hard conversation. But the fact is culture plays a huge role in how successful an Agile transformation will be . So if we see a company’s aversion to risk as a stumbling block to their being able to make the changes necessary to succeed at Agile, we’ll point it out.

Using RAGE to Solve “Personality Problems”

Fortunately, this personality issue is not a recipe for failure. Rather, it’s an opportunity for the company to get to know themselves a little better, and for our professional Agile coaches to take full advantage of the flexible nature of the RAGE program .

RAGE is our proprietary method for helping companies devise unique “recipes” for Agile governance that take into account both the standard “ingredients” every successful Agile transformation needs and the unique processes each company must use to incorporate those ingredients into their work flow.

While the recipes created for tiny startup will necessarily look much different from the recipes that work for a large risk averse corporation, both can be successfully implemented, resulting in effectively Agile environments.

If you’d like to see RAGE at work in your own company, we’d be happy to make that happen. And if you’re not sure if your company’s personality can make a go of Agile, we’ll discuss that too.