Friday, June 24, 2016

1660 Organizational Life Cycles

1660 Organizational Life Cycles

Here’s some ammo to predict the future.  The life cycle of a typical organization.

People come together for a reason.  They want something created or something stopped.  If they catch on, their population grows and if it grows vigorously and quickly, that’s when the trouble begins.

At some point, anything organized by us two-legged critters demotes its founding purpose, usually before fulfilling its mission.  The Big Idea is replaced by two smaller Big Ideas, self preservation and growth.

It doesn’t matter whether the group is a summer stock company or a manufacturing company, a medical center, union, house of worship… whatever.  

Eventually -- and usually sooner than later -- preservation and growth.  Either that or it falls apart.

Look at “Occupy.”  Here today, gone tomorrow.  They collected a large following, had no real defined goals or means to reach them, and today?  Nowhere.

You can expect the same from the Teabags and the Bernie Bros., the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and even ISIS.

Occupy fell from a high floor and fast. Other groups don’t always.  Sometimes they have parachutes and sometimes the parachutes open, so the ride down is slower and more controlled.

Eventually the core dilutes with the expansion. Internal conflicts develop and form factions.  People get bored and drift away.

Sometimes, the founding leaders leave and those who remain take two steps: (1) Inscribe the founding idea on the doorpost and (2) forget it’s there and go about the businesses of preservation of expansion.

This usually is a bad idea, but not always.

Once polio was conquered, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now the March of Dimes, turned its focus and its money on other afflictions. Well done.

Try to think of another one or two outfits on any scale that flipped that switch.  They’re there. But not in big numbers.

Sometimes, the founders remain but fossilize.  Take a look at the evolution of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.  It formed in 1942 in part because the NAACP was busy dithering about civil rights in an era when dithering was ineffective.

CORE’s president, Roy Innis, among the best of the good guys, a graduate of CCNY when that meant something and Stuyvesant High School which still does, is 82 and hasn’t had an original thought since the 1990s.

Marlo Thomas is 78 and still active in her father’s worthy group, St. Jude’s Children's’ Hospital is in similar straits.  A fine lady, of course.

But these two deserve their own wing in the American Museum of Natural History or maybe the Smithsonian.

So, organizations are like butterflies.  A long time in the cocoon, followed by a grand display, and then -- often almost immediately -- begin the process of self hobbling.

Grapeshot:
-For an explanation of Brexit, see the above Wessay.

Shrapnel:
--Birds will grow teeth before all the dust over Brexit settles. But while everyone has an opinion on how it will affect Britain, few are speaking out on the probable effect on the EU.  Here it is in one word: Weakened.

--Britain has long succeeded in convincing much of the world that it is The Moral Authority.  No one has that in writing.  But Brexit will undermine others’ confidence in the EU.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

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