Corporate DNA

A plant’s genes are encoded in its DNA and adapted to its environment by evolution. They tell the plant how to use environmental resources to grow and reproduce.

I think of a business as a living entity. It can germinate, thrive and grow in a suitable environment. It can reproduce by generating spin-offs, or consume other businesses through mergers and acquisitions. It can also be consumed or die from lack of resources and starvation. A larger business must posses a good nervous system for transmission of information, as well as a circulatory system for transportation of critical physical resources.

How are a business’ genes encoded? What form does its DNA take?

I think the answer lies in a slight generalization of what we normally call business processes. In a large and/or bureaucratic corporation, these may take the form of explicit, well-documented, enforced policies and procedures. In a smaller and/or agile one, they may just be “the way we do things around here”.

Like genes, in order to ensure survival, business processes must

  • adapt to environmental changes
  • discover optimally efficient tactics and strategies for surviving in the environment at any time
  • resist invasion by viruses---persons or organizations with "genes" that are parasitical to the business

Tags: Business, Philosophy

Updated at: 1 October 2005 6:10 AM

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