Large organisations tend to have what is usually called their own “culture” but when you look deeper, there is a more basic form of “sameness” amongst organisations in a field, particularly those in a public field, Government departments, churches, non profits and industry bodies.

I speculate that this is because they are stable, relatively long term entities, often protected from the discipline of the market to some degree, so they tend to select new employees, promote and measure performance  against the criteria of those already there. This will tend to perpetuate the DNA of the organisation, and as people leave, they will often find themselves in similar organisations, thus spreading the DNA laterally.

In the Australian Public Service there is a set of guidelines driving the employment, promotion, performance assessment and cross departmental transfer processes, the “Integrated Leadership System“. It is a complex set of procedures designed to ensure even handed and consistent selection decisions, but which must result in the perpetuation of the genetic code of the APS.

This genetic coding is what makes change in large organisations so difficult, it takes a real gutsy, and very rare leader to alter the rules by which he/she rose to the point at which they can change the rules.