People have SIEF types.
They are intensive or expansive,
high or low tolerance,
possibly squished, tempered, or fried to a crisp.
Institutions are a little less fine-grained, but they still have types.
Intensive institutions are nimble, innovative, often but not always small (I’m looking at you, Google), and more likely to suddenly crash. They are almost always headed by intensive leaders.
Expansive institutions are consistent, slow, change-resistant, but often less vulnerable to whim (I’m looking at you, IBM). They are potentially headed by either expansives or intensives, as long as there is appropriate buffering between the top level leader and the rank and file.
If your institution has a self-selected membership, it is likely to be majority expansive, as the general population is.
If your institution selects its members (as a company does, hiring employees), over time it is likely to favor people who match the institutional character.
If your institution also has customers, it is very interesting to see whether your target customer base matches or contrasts with your institutional character.
How can you tell which one your organization is?
An intensive institution will make decisions fast, take risks, pull all-nighters (literally or metaphorically), go from the gut, and sometimes have a strong emotional sense of coherence, or a longing for it.
In expansive institutions, decisions are made deliberately, with input from many sources. Punctuality and consistency are highly valued. Changes are not welcomed unless they are absolutely clearly needed.
Sometimes a department will differ from the rest of the company, and everyone will know they are different, but not really understand why. Accounting might be the only expansives in the building. R&D and Sales might get along with each other way better than they get along with anyone else. Or not.
This is often why.
When you know what your institutional character is, you can make hiring decisions and structural business decisions accordingly, and dramatically reduce the internal operating friction, as well as the stress when you introduce a change or new hire. This way, when you say you’re seeking a “cultural fit” you can be clear and conscious about the choices and values you’re promoting, and decide if that’s the right choice for your company–not just in the microcosm of this one decision, but in the macrocosm of what your company stands for. If your organization can remain coherent, people will trust you and your leadership far more easily.
Member and customer loyalty rely on trust. Be who you know you are, and the right people will turn to you.