Categorization is helpful as it gives us a frame of reference to look at things comparatively. This is why consultants always turn to 2×2 matrix-es to explain things. It helps our brains digest and process information.
I have used categorization to explain and differentiate the 4 types of companies I have worked with (either as an employee or as a consultant)
1. The BLACKHOLE Organization
– this is the organization that just sucks the life out of you. Everybody has lots to do but nothing gets done. Things go in but never come out. The only reason this organization survives is because of economic crutches.
2. The ROLLER COASTER Organization
– this organization is exciting, lots of things happening but it isn’t going places. It is competitive to a minimum level of performance. While the talk is always about external competitors, all the conflicts are internal. It is a very tiring place to work in.
3. The OLD FAITHFUL Organization
– this organization has culture and an elegance to it. People come to work knowing exactly what to do and just get the job done, very refined, very clear and makes steady continuous progress. There is strong focus on external competitors. People are proud to be part of the brand.
4. The TRAIL BLAZER Organization
– this organization is organized-ly disorganized. It moves very quickly based on windows of opportunity. A lot of energy, excitement and celebration that goes on with every win. Keeping score is big and people are pumped up. This organization grows by leaps and bounds.
What I have found is that it doesn’t take very much for an organization to move from one level to another. The big differentiator among the organization types is the degree of alignment of organizational behavior and organizational design to strategy and goals. The stronger the alignment – the higher the organization is likely to be. And the simple acid test to test this is – “are people in the organization walking the talk”.