This paper explores the question as to ‘what do organisations that are adapting to climate change look like?’ Examples are drawn from a survey of statutory regulations, guiding principles and organisational documents shaping current practice, with particular emphasis on the water and conservation sectors of industrialised nations. In so far as it is possible to distil recurring themes into common traits, nine hallmarks are identified. These include visionary leadership, objective setting, risk and vulnerability assessment, guidance for practitioners, organisational learning, low-regret adaptive management, multi-partner working, monitoring and reporting progress and effective communication. Recognising that adaptation is highly context and scale dependent, an organisation might not necessarily exhibit all these features. However, our inventory provides a practical basis for reviewing the priorities and progress on adaptation capacity building within public and private sector organisations alike.