Some call it active inertia, founders’ syndrome or just stuck in the past. Whatever you call it, get it fixed or your organization dies at worst or is ineffective at best. In 1900, the Fortune 100 companies, the best of the best, in 2000 only two remained. What happened to 97 of the top companies just 100 years later? I believe they suffered from one of the aforementioned diseases.
Like most organizations, by the second or third generation, they are over managed and under led. How many marketplace companies, churches or Christian organizations do you know one-hundred years old or older? It happens in any organized effort that involves humans.
Symptoms of the Illness
- No longer growing and/or losing members.
- Do not know how to move from entrepreneurial-style leadership to well-planned and strategically led style.
- Weak or absent strong administrative structure.
- Founder’s leadership style of highly reactive and individualistic needs to change. Strong resistance to proactive, consensus-oriented style.
- Experiencing the same recurring problems.
- Plans not implemented or seldom succeed.
- Money and resources scarce.
- Unhealthy turnover in board members and staff.
- Move from one crisis to another.
- Lack of clarity about what’s happening by those who should know.
- Support base shrinking.
- Leadership increasingly anxious and defensive.
Traits of Unhealthy Organizations
- Founding group is dynamic, driven and decisive. However, these traits now a liability instead of an asset unless they become “mission-minded” instead of remaining entrepreneurial.
- At organization’s beginning, leadership’s vision was clear. Leadership was strong, well-connected, and knew the needs of their members. These strengths diminishing or no longer exist.
- Leadership is skeptical about planning, policies and procedures.
- Reactive, crisis-driven decisions are the norm and not the exception.
- Believe success solely based on more money and body counts.
- Board spends majority of its time managing the present, not developing strategies for the future.
- New leaders feel they are serving the founders more than the mission and vision through an exciting current strategy.
- Charismatic personalities rather than the mission, vision and values attract new board members, leaders and members. What gets you involved must keep you involved or you drop out.
- Cannot let go of, “We’ve always done it this way – why change?”
- Organization is still personality driven – not process driven.
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