How organizations decline

Double click to enlarge.

This chart is from a review of a book entitled Tribal Leadership, whose subject how to bring an organization from the bottom Stage 1 (“Life Sucks”) to the top Stage 5 (“Life is Great”).  But as I see it, most enterprises go in the opposite direction.  They start at Stage 5 and gradually decline to Stage 1, and the chart is a great illustration of that devolution.

In the case of business, the great entrepreneurial pioneers start out by doing something new and important for the love of it, then figuring out how to make money from it.  After the founders’ generation passes away, the enterprise eventually falls into the hands of people who care only about the money.  If money is your only objective, it is hard to see why you should put the good of the enterprise ahead of your own personal ambition.  That puts the organization in Stage 3 and on the way to Stages 4 and 5.

Ranking of employees for the purpose of reward and punishment, as is done at Microsoft, almost forces the employees to think of themselves first and the enterprise second.  Of course this kind of devolution is not just limited to business.  High-stakes testing in the public schools is another example.

Click on A Step-By-Step Guide to Tribal Culture for the original review on the Emergent by Design web log.

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