Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Evolution of an Organisation can Affect the Prevailing Culture

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"...As a result of age, size or competitive intensity, most organisations exhibit a deterioration in vital signs that is inconsistent with ‐ in fact, often destructive to ‐ their ambitions and purposes. The members of start-up organisations have a sense of individual and collective power; they feel they can make a big difference in the pursuit of the goals they all share. Employees identify with the enterprise as a whole; alignment and informal teamwork are commonplace. When conflicts occur, people handle them directly and almost never allow them to interfere with getting things done. The whole organisation is open to learning; trial and error are the norm. As organisations grow older and larger, however, the vigour of these 4 vital signs deteriorates. Instead of power, people often develop a sense of resignation in response to seemingly insurmountable obstacles or to a lack of support from their superiors in the daily hassle of getting things done. As organisations become more complicated and demanding, people strive to carve out private patches of turf where they can exercise responsibility, protect themselves and keep the world at bay. When it comes to their identity, therefore, employees lose their sense of teamwork and alignment with the entire enterprise and begin to seek the safety of their particular profession, union, function or location. People in mature organisations tend to avoid conflict for fear of blame or of having someone take their disagreement personally. Alternatively, they may take part in a succession of routine collisions that lead to stalemates rather than resolution. As for learning, larger and older organisations tend to be less receptive to new ideas than their younger counterparts. In place of inquiry and experimentation, ideas get studied to death in hopes of ferreting out every possible weakness before making a commitment. The pre-condition of action is certain knowledge..."

(source: Richard Pascale et al, 1997)


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