Navigating the Perils: When an Organisation Operates in Conflict with its Identity

Navigating the Perils

In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, an organisation’s identity is its North Star, guiding decisions, shaping culture, and defining its essence. However, the precarious scenario arises when an organisation operates in conflict with its own established identity—a phenomenon akin to sailing against the wind. As a thought leader in organisational dynamics, it is imperative to shed light on the inherent risks associated with such a divergence and emphasise the pressing need to wake up to the implications.

The Essence of Organisational Identity

Before delving into the risks, it’s crucial to understand what organisational identity entails. Picture it as the DNA of an organisation, encapsulating its core values, beliefs, mission, purpose, culture, and distinctive traits. It is the driving force that unifies employees, aligns strategies, and communicates a unique value proposition to the world.

Risks of Diverging from Organisational Identity

1. Internal Dissonance:

A misalignment with organisational identity can breed internal discord. Employees, who were drawn in by and were looking to be the living embodiment of an organisation, may feel a sense of confusion or betrayal when actions deviate from stated values. This dissonance can lead to decreased morale, disengagement, attrition, and even increase insider threats.

2. Erosion of Trust:

Trust is the bedrock of any successful organisation. When stakeholders perceive a misalignment between actions and stated values, trust erodes. Whether it’s customers, employees, or partners, the fallout can be substantial, damaging relationships that may have taken years to build.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” —Warren Buffett


3. Reputation Damage:

Organisational identity is closely tied to public perception. Operating in conflict with this identity risks tarnishing the organisation’s reputation. Once a reputation is compromised, restoring it can be an uphill battle, affecting customer loyalty and brand equity.

4. Innovation Stagnation:

A significant facet of an organisation’s identity often involves fostering innovation and adapting to change. Operating counter to this identity can stifle creativity and hinder the ability to pivot in response to evolving market dynamics, putting the organisation at a competitive disadvantage. Disengaged employees is not a successful formula for innovation or creative problem solving.

5. Loss of Competitive Edge:

An organisation’s identity often serves as a unique selling proposition. Straying from this identity can lead to a loss of differentiation in the market, making it challenging to stand out amid competitors. This loss of a competitive edge can have far-reaching consequences on market share and revenue.


Time to Wake Up

In the face of these highlighted risks alone, the call to action is clear—it’s time for organisations to wake up to the implications of operating in conflict with their identity. This requires a deep introspection into organisational practices, a reassessment of decision-making processes, and a commitment to realigning actions with values.

Leadership, starting at the Board, must spearhead this awakening, acknowledging the risks and embracing a transparent and authentic dialogue with stakeholders. Organisations need to actively seek feedback from employees, customers, and partners that is not engineered and manipulated to give a skewed result, if they wish to understand the perceived misalignment and take corrective measures.

The wake-up call involves revisiting and, and in some cases, a need to redefine the organisational identity, and gaining Clarity on both what the business is and what it isn’t. This may require a recalibration of goals, a reassessment of values, and a commitment to a course correction that aligns actions with the organisation’s core essence.

In conclusion, the risks associated with operating in conflict with organisational identity are too significant to be ignored. Organisations that choose to heed the wake-up call, recalibrate their course, and align their actions with their identity stand a much better chance of navigating the turbulent waters of the business world with resilience and success. As a thought leader in organisational dynamics, it is our responsibility to champion this awakening for a future where identity and actions move in harmony, not conflict.

Step forward

If you’re uncertain about where to begin on your journey, embark on a transformative journey toward organisational success with our “Clarity” Workshop, custom-designed for boards and executive leadership. This meticulously crafted program, curated by experts, empowers you to explore and refine your organisational purpose, enhance decision-making, and harness the collective power of your team in managing risks and opportunities. Gain invaluable insights to ensure that your organisational identity is aligned with your business operations and how you show up. The result? An opportunity for your leadership to gain Clarity and a deeper understanding of your current position, from which you can move forward. Join us in igniting a meaningful dialogue and elevating your path to purposeful leadership and organisational excellence. Reach out to us to discover more. You are welcome to book a conversation.

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