by Tom Posey


This April 25th is National DNA day. While perhaps this date didn’t make it onto your social calendar, it’s a great reminder to celebrate the discoveries the Human Genome Project has provided since its launch twenty-five years ago.

From the broad research of genetics and developmental biology, a new branch of scientific inquiry has emerged:  Epigenetics.

Epigenetics studies the mechanisms underlying the regulation of gene expression.

While we each inherit a specific DNA coded sequence, some of the genes in our individual code activate, while others lie dormant forever. What determines activation vs. latency? Why do some genes get expressed while others remain unused? Those questions belong to epigenetics.

You could say that genetics provide us with possibilities; epigenetics determine our destiny. It’s the difference between a musical score, with the musical notes existing as possibilities on a sheet of paper, and the music that actually gets expressed.

Lessons from Epigenetics

Depending on your beliefs about your own organization, you may consider the current state of your business as anywhere from “we’re in real trouble” to “we’re doing great” to “we’re so overwhelmed I don’t know where we are.”

Similar to genetic research, what if somehow you could make your current organizational code visible, determine unrealized potential, and then activate your unique powers?

That question drove us to name our firm Present Values. As we reduce latency and our clients’ express new capabilities, risk is mitigated and the present value of the firm’s people, capital, and systems increases.”

Visiting Your Own Reality

An important first step to providing visibility to your present organizational code is to analyze your current situation and compare where you are today to a very clear, granular vision of where you want to go as a business. The next step is then determining the strategic, prioritized work initiatives that put you on a trajectory to achieve your desired state within a given timeframe. These two steps form the basis of our tagline at Present Values: truth today…growth forever.

Organizations often run into trouble when change managers step in to provide processes for executing the new strategy. While organizations experience differing levels of success with their change initiatives, those organizations that fall short of their needed changes all report a common element:  They put too much emphasis on the plan and processes, the rational work, and not enough emphasis on the mechanisms of activating the change through their people, or as we call it, the relational work.

That’s the difference between the instructional coded sequence of processes on paper and activating new behaviors in the culture.

Putting Your Music in the Air

Making your current organizational code visible and strategically operational through rational work is certainly a critical component in your organization’s agenda for change.

But remember that developing new ways of communicating, relating, and leading the change together matters just as much. That’s the relational work.

It’s the carefully orchestrated inter-twining of these two components, rational and relational, that provides your organization with the faster and lasting realization of business value. 

Teams become more open to inquire about your organizational genetic code. Your people feel free to explore new relational ways to cooperate and become wiser about releasing unrealized capabilities.

You could say there’s music in the air.


Tom Posey serves as senior managing director of leadership development and resident organizational epigeneticist at Present Values.