3 Questions for a “Quick and Dirty” Assessment of Your Organization’s Authenticity

by cv harquail on April 12, 2008

kitten-mirror.jpgAn authentic organization, very simply, is an organization whose identity, image and actions are congruent with each other. Identity is reflected in image and actions, Image accurately describes identity and actions, and actions express identity and image.

How can you know whether and how your organization is authentic?

It takes a deep inquiry and thoughtful process to answer that question thoroughly, and to be frank, I haven’t worked it all out clearly enough to post it yet. But, in the meantime, I propose a provisional, “quick & dirty” way to assess your organization’s authenticity.

Keep in mind….

kitten-sees-lion-in-mirror.jpgConsider, first, that authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. Based on what you know about your organization, based on what you’ve experienced of your organization, you are the judge of whether it is authentic.

Second, consider that authenticity is not an achievement. It is not an end state at which the organization arrives. Authenticity is a dynamic process for sustaining alignment – for staying real, staying true, staying honest, and securing meaning.

Third, remember that assessing an organization’s authenticity depends on knowing that organization. You need to have some basic sense of what makes your organization distinctive and what defines your organization. An organization’s identity is something that is expressed and can be known through identity beliefs, through image, and through action, either one at a time or simultanously.

Identity Questions

To establish a basic sense of your organization, you need to answer (however provisionally) these 3 identity questions:

  1. Who do we believe we are as an organization?
  2. How do we present ourselves?
  3. What do we do and how do we do it?

kitten-fights-mirror.jpgIdeally, the answers to these questions would be pretty similar. If they were similar, you’d probably judge your organization to be reasonably authentic. But similarity only tells you whether (or to what degree) these different expressions of the organization are congruent.

What you really need to know is how the organization is authentic -where the points of congruence are, and how the organization is not authentic – where there is discord between beliefs, image and actions.

Authenticity Questions

To assess how your organization is authentic, answer these 3 authenticity questions:

  1. How do our actions as an organization reflect our beliefs about ourselves and the claims we make about ourselves to others?
  2. How do we express our beliefs about ourselves as an organization in our claims and in our actions?
  3. How do our claims about ourselves as an organization reflect who we believe we are and what we do?

Your answers to these questions give you a place to begin.






Larry Hendershot November 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I am trying to find the original source for the picture of the kitten, and lion in the mirror.
If you can help me I would greatly appreciate it!

Larry Hendershot
806.206.5442 cell

cv November 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Larry, I wish I could tell you. I (probably) found that doing a google image search for mirror & distortion, but I did it 2 yrs ago befroe I knew to pay attention to cc, etc. But, i have also seen this photo in a lot of other places since.

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