Five “Organisational Characters” – Which are you?

Five “Organisational Characters” – Which are you?

A couple of weeks ago Barnaby Joyce, the Federal Agricultural Minister, used a health analogy to describe the state of the economy (Reference). In essence he said that if you diagnose a critical problem you would be foolish to leave it alone and hope it goes away.

Being involved in assisting businesses ‘diagnose’ their ‘health’ and then if necessary providing ‘treatment’ we developed a simple tool and five “Organisational Characters” to describe some of the variability we get in organisations. Defined in terms of risk of failure they are a light way to communicate and discuss failure prevention, hopefully to lead the organisation towards prevention rather than a cure!

  1. The President: The President Organisation has a well-developed understanding of its level of business risk and has the leadership, people and systems to manage it to an acceptable level. When issues arise the President Organisation has a way of sorting it out, and usually manages to control them so the business runs well and no one gets hurt. The President Organisation adapts and learns, it has the right resources, and, it communicates and leads its teams effectively. Most of us want to be in a President Organisation, or lead an organisation which becomes ‘President’. In brief: great places to learn, so seek out these companies and stay as long as you can!
  2. The Policeman: The Policeman Organisation is like a Policeman with a speed trap: it expects everyone to comply forever because they have been fined once, and that a single speed trap makes everyone on the roads drive safely! This type of business has generally started compliance, started its management plans, started people engagement and so on but these initiatives are not yet working effectively or consistently. In brief: although business risk is reducing it remains above acceptable, and as issues arise they may be poorly managed.
  3. The Firefighter: These organisation’s struggle to improve their performance. There are always problems and just when it looks like things are getting better something else happens. Leaders in these organisations may need to be trained to delegate and manage, so they don’t get involved in everything. Their systems are probably not worth the paper they are written on. Employees are doing what they think is right, but often are inefficient or wasteful. In brief: business risk has been contained but is now plateaued. If you know what you are doing, you can make a big difference here, otherwise pick up a hose!
  4. The Gambler: Here we have unrealistic long terms targets, and/or short terms goals that have little chance of being successful! This organisation is on a journey to disaster. Business risk is going up and up and the Gambler keeps going without looking for indicators of performance or learning from mistakes.In brief: Fuelled by optimism, which on the surface may appear attractive, join in and hope the problems go away or keep away!
  5. The Stuntman: A leadership team full of egos and charisma. Individually leaders are knowledgeable and skillful but a little bit crazy. These leaders can get people to do things they would usually avoid, and mostly it goes well! Although Stuntman organisations are expert at managing risk, somewhere there is an Achilles heal which makes their risk management unpredictable. So whilst they are doing well they are heros, but for whatever reason rarely die of old age! On the way to success, the Stuntman has broken every bone in his body and is a wreck, but still optimistic and smiling. The organisation thinks it is managing risk well but when something goes wrong will remark “where the hell did that come from?” In brief: unpredictable, sometimes fun, sometimes scary places to work! Maybe OK for experienced people who know how to diagnose and treat symptoms, others maybe told its OK and it will go away!

Have you worked out which you are or where you work? If you would like to know more, in particular about diagnosis or treatment Contact Us