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Organizational Focus: What Stage Drives Most Change Efforts

Posted by Thomas Edwards on April 2, 2018 8:05 PM EDT
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Joe's blog post last week got me thinking about what stages most drive change efforts....

...in larger enterprises and in the men and women who lead them.

As a frequent contributor to blogs on this profile page/hub, I find my area of focus on organizational health and strategic process innovation often has an application to a blog written and posted by one of my peers, Joe or Thomas.  In the context of the four stages of a well-lived life that Joe wrote about last week, I must say that those same stages can be bent a little bit to fit for organizations as well.

Daily management improvements and execution excellence mostly live in the lower two quadrants.  For example, if a company or nonprofit organization sees its key measures declining or not keeping up with competitors, then the focus goes to survival and improvement, or success.  Unlike Joe's blog which put the focus on the stages that people as individuals go through as they seek better lives, my suggestion is that there are really five stages when it comes to organizational health and or organizational components for driving change.

The five stages I think apply to organizations are also "s" words, but they each have a descriptor (who says another blog writer cannot make up their own boundaries, right?).  So, here goes:

Stage 1:  Simple Survival - Getting by and breaking even is a big deal when your organization loses most of the "big ones"

Stage 2:  Initial Sucess - Once you score a win, it feels like doing it again may not be so hard after all

Stage 3:  Sustained Success - Finding and replicacting success is an important motivator for changes and improvements everywhere

Stage 4:  Status - Brand names that shout "we're winners" are key reasons for working at or doing business with organizations

Stage 5:  Significance - A compelling purpose or mission when coupled with strong economics and social significance add value in many ways

The principles are aligned in that sense that continual momentum leads both individuals and organizations in an upward spiral of improvement and ongoing change.  In the latter stages (status, significance) the emotional aspects of continual improvement become ever more important than the practical and pragmatic drivers in the early stages (survival, success).  In fact, when the numbers are good, then what else is left to conquer?  Without question, Stage 4 and Stage 5 companies tell stories that are much different from the cultural story-telling of the earlier stages.  The latter stage organizations are full of stories that don't have numbers in them-but they are filled with stories which feature heroes, people, dreams, inventions and vision instead.

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