Deep Change

Organization and change are not complementary concepts. To organize is to systematize; to make behavior predictable. All organizations are based on systems of external and internal expectations. The external expectations may be informal, like the desire of a customer to buy a quality product at a reasonable price. Alternatively, the external expectations can actually be formalized into a law, requiring that an organization perform in certain ways. The internal expectations also range from informal to formal.

The process of formalization initially makes the organization more efficient or effective. As time goes on, however, these same routine patterns move the organization toward decay and stagnation. The organization loses alignment with the changing, external reality. As a result, customers go elsewhere for their products and services, and the organization loses its critical resources.

When internal and external alignment is lost, the organization faces a choice: either adapt or take the road to slow death. Usually the organization can be renewed, energized, or made effective only if some leader is willing to take some big risks by stepping outside the well-defined boundaries. When this happens, the organization is lured, pushed, or pulled into unknown territory. The resulting journey through the unknown is a terrifying experience, with the possibility of failure or death a reality rather than a metaphor.

(Deep Change, pp. 5)

Reflection

Have I ever seen a person choose slow death?

Have I ever seen an organization choose slow death?

How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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