Traditionally, we look at organisations through the lens of their ownership structure and set-up. Are they mutual or shareholder-owned? Private or plc? Governmental or private sector? In discussion recently with Neela Bettridge from Article 13, I learned of a much more useful distinction: between those organisations where there is an 'It's not my job' mentality, versus those with a 'Let's get it done' mentality.
This is the crucial indicator that distinguishes a healthy, well performing organisation from a sick one. Of course, the one with the 'Let's get it done' approach may be heading in a mistaken direction, but it at least has some momentum, and is more likely to be adaptable.
You can only discover which culture the organisation has by getting in there and assessing it. The days when investors and others rely entirely upon superficial and proxy measures must surely be numbered. Reputation can be of little use as a guide.
I have recently had experience of the 'It's not my job' mentality from Virgin Media, a company supposedly built on customer service, but whose representatives simply did not bother to supply me with the promised broadband service, and didn't see it as their problem to fix it when I called.
This is appalling service Ė among the worst I've ever received Ė but it is just one example; one cannot make safe assumptions about the whole of Virgin based on this (though I shall write to Richard Branson and cancel other Virgin accounts).
Read more from Phil Whiteley at http://felipewh.wordpress.com