When people put their own good ahead of the organizational good, they are contributing to the process of slow death in their organizations. Here is how one manager described the slow death process in his organization:
“We chose slow death three years ago. The organization gave up significant position in the industry because of an internal conflict between divisions with opposing philosophies. We needed real change, and everyone knew it. Yet no one was willing to engage it. The result was that we went from thirty-one thousand people to fewer than fifteen thousand in a two-year period. We are no longer a significant player, and there is no hope for the future. It is now just a matter of time.”
I seldom do an organizational diagnosis without finding at least one example of intergroup conflict. It is often ignored because no one can imagine how to transform the conflict into collaboration. Yet transforming conflict into collaboration is the essence of leadership. In this executive’s case the conflict gave rise to the slow death process, and the absence of real leadership allowed it to grow into the need for major downsizing.
Over the next few days, I will share 5 more examples from Managers that illustrate how slow death occurred in their organization. I encourage you to think about what the executive’s statements have in common, and why the patterns you identify keep happening again and again.
Are any of these patterns familiar?
Have you experienced them in your own organization?
What could you or other leaders have done to halt the process of slow death and turn it around?
(The Deep Change Field Guide, p. 31-34)