At a recent meeting, we were discussing the various stages of development of any organization and how everyone fits into one of these 4 stages; creation, expansion, prime or maturity. I found this information incredibly insightful and thought provoking.
Creation – This stage of the organization describes a start up. The programs and services were created to support its reason for being. There is typically minimal organizational structure, informal and frequent communication among the members, limited resources (both financial and human) and a high level of activity with too little time to plan ahead. The primary task at this stage is to complete the day to day tasks to prove the very reason for being. The danger or pitfall in this stage is people are too busy “doing, doing, doing” that there is not time to plan ahead.
This stage resonated for me as I thought of the start up companies we have been involved with and I recognized these were some of the challenges that they had faced.
Expansion – This is the quantity stage (not necessarily quality) where the organization is now growing and moving forward. Programs and services are expanded, initial clarity of the mission is clouded by unfocused growth, new administrative systems are needed to solidify the informal structure and there are conflicting demands for financial and human resources. The primary task in this stage is to clarify the mission, analyze the environment and prepare for the future. The danger in this stage is relying on informal system, policies and procedures.
When thinking of this stage, I immediately thought “It’s all about quantity. Okay, things are cooking, you’re growing that’s awesome however, you better get processes in place as it will be the processes and policies that will save the day.”
Prime – This is a very exciting stage where the organization is clear about its purpose and plans. It’s more about being results-oriented and quality is more important than quantity. A more professional approach to its methods of doing business are at play and innovation and creativity are both fostered and rewarded. The primary task is all around improving management, evaluation and the cost-benefit analysis. The dangers are if the leadership remains too task oriented.
I immediately thought of this being the quality stage. The examples that came to my mind were Google, Apple and Facebook as I feel that they are all in their prime.
Maturity – This stage is all about maintaining status quo and being in business to keep itself in business. I found this stage the most interesting of all of them. This stage was around beliefs that the past approaches for future successes are sufficient however the policies and procedures constrain operations and restrict progress which leads to programs and services stagnating and declining. There is outdated communication usually top down along with slow decision making processes. As well, fixed assumptions filter out new approaches and strategies. There is a lot of “We’ve never done it THAT way before” going on. The primary task is to stay in business and maintain status quo. The danger is that the organization becomes irrelevant.
I thought “Wow”. This is the do or die stage and you are faced with a choice. Unless you re-invent yourself or your vision and accommodate for changes, you are done. If you are not changing and evolving with the changing times, you are in danger of becoming irrelevant. My thoughts went to companies like MySpace, Yahoo, Blockbuster and Kodak and the challenges they’ve had to face as well as to celebrities such as Madonna who continually re-invents herself with each generation of music lovers.
It is at this time, perhaps it’s time to go back to Creation?
So, what stage are you at?