Choosing Slow Death: Manager 2

The second Manager I spoke to described the slow death process at his company this way.

“Slow death is what we are about — a conservative, ‘Don’t rock the boat’ culture: executives three to five years from retirement, little long-range planning, no vision, and denial of all external criticism.  We make superficial changes…but we make no real change in our basic structures and processes.  We are on a course that is clear to all.”

Large hierarchies are a natural seedbed for the emergence of a conservative culture.  Constructive disagreement is a sign of organizational health, but in a conservative culture criticism is often stifled.  A climate of constructive conflict indicates effective leadership.  In this case the manager’s last sentence is an interesting one.  He points out that everyone recognizes where the organization is probably headed: first to a crisis, then to the same downsizing process mentioned in the first case.


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)

2 thoughts on “Choosing Slow Death: Manager 2

  1. I have seen people keeping themselves busy with trivial changes with no positive impact to business as long as it helps in making their “numbers” look good. Sometimes when all is going well, they are reluctant to analyse to see if something can be done differently as they are afraid that things might change for worse. Basically, they are averse to risks. It is when we become complacent and satisfied with what we are doing and where we are, our downfall begins. Change should begin not when things start going wrong, but when we are already doing good.


    • You are exactly right. Change is an ongoing process and unfortunately we are wired to stop hard work when we feel comfortable and life appears to be going well. Problems are often the impetus for change, and it is important to act then as well – but the ideal state is constant change and growth. Thank you.


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