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)