Organizations grow through a developmental life cycle process similar to human beings, or at least, we can see the similarities. Therefore, we can consider organizations to also be organisms. They have a life process. If this is the case, then how do we properly feed and nourish the organization in order to foster health? Some companies are too fat, some are too lean. Some companies come from “dysfunctional families” and carry disease. Do you think the basic nutritional principle of “garbage-in, garbage-out” applies to our organizations’ health? What is the right nutrition for healthy organizations?

Some food for thought

As organizations grow and develop they may need to focus on getting their calories from different sources. According to the organizational life cycle guru, Ichak Adizes, at inception the organization needs to focus on sales or “entrepreneurship.” In infancy the company needs to focus on performance and execution. In the rapid growth stage the company will continue to focus on performance, production, and sales. Then in adolescence, the organization focuses less on production and more on systematizing and consistency while still focusing on entrepreneurship. As the company moves to prime it will re-focus on production as well as systems and sales (“Corporate Lifecycles” Ichak Adizes 1988).

One size does not fit all!

  • Challenge your assumptions. Are we doing things just because that’s the way we’ve always done them? Our organizational muscles can get  flabby and weak. We need exercise!
  • “Where the mind goes the energy goes.” Are we aligned as an organization about where we are headed and what we stand for? Do we have an organizational intention that we all know and focus on? Our results are based on our practices. Underlying our practices, are our intentions and beliefs positive and forward-looking?
  • Do we take as good a care of our people as we do our computers and printers? Do we maintain them regularly, or only when they break down?
  • Are our leaders emotionally intelligent? Do they get the coaching, feedback and information they need to be the best role models for the health they seek in the workforce?
  • Create Energy. Do we exuberantly celebrate our successes, use our setbacks as learning opportunities, and create times of rest and repose? How are we creating good energy versus stress and burnout?

A healthy diet and regular exercise builds strong organizations every way.

Just some food for thought.

Patrick Hiester
Vice-President, BizPsych