Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How the Mighty Fall: Stage 2

Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More

An organization is more likely to die of indigestion from too much opportunity than starvation from too little - David Packard, Hewlett Packard

Overreaching, not complacency, much better explains how the once-invincible self-destruct.
Frenetic innovation – growth that erodes consistent tactical excellence – can just as easily send a company cascading through the stages of decline.

Hubris (Stage 1) can lead to making brash commitments for more and more and more.

The greatest leaders do seek growth – growth in performance, growth in distinctive impact, growth in creativity, growth in people – but they do not succumb to growth that undermines long-term value. And they certainly do not confuse growth with excellence. Big does not equal great, and great does not equal big.

Undisciplined Behaviors

Discontinuous leaps into arenas for which you have no burning passion
  • Taking action inconsistent with your core values
  • Investing heavily in new arenas where you cannot attain distinctive capability
  • Launching headlong into activities that do not fit your resource engine
  • Addiction to scale
  • Neglecting your core business while you leap after exciting new adventures
  • Using the organization primarily as a vehicle to increase your own personal success
  • Compromising your values or losing sight of your core purpose in pursuit of growth

Any exceptional enterprise depends first and foremost upon having self-managed and self-motivated people – the #1 ingredient for a culture of discipline.

When bureaucratic rules erode an ethic of freedom and responsibility within a framework of core values and demanding standards, you’ve become infected with the disease of mediocrity.
Whether a company sustains exceptional performance depends first and foremost on whether it continues to have the right people in leadership, which introduces the last point in this stage.
Leaders who fail the process of succession set their enterprises on a path to decline. One of the most significant indicators of decline is the reallocation of power into the hands of leaders who fail to comprehend and/or lack the will to do what must be done – and equally, what must not be done – to sustain greatness.

Stage 2 overreaching tends to increase after a legendary leader steps away.

While no leader can single-handedly build an enduring great company, the wrong leader vested with power can almost single-handedly bring a company down.
Stage 2 Markers
  • Unsustainable quest for growth, confusing big with great
  • Undisciplined discontinuous leaps
  • Declining proportion of right people in key seats
  • Bureaucracy subverts discipline
  • Problematic succession of power
  • Personal interests placed above organizational interests
Questions for ChurchWorld:
John Maxwell says everything rises and falls on leadership. The number one warning sign for your organization is a declining proportion of key seats filled with the right people. Here are your 24/7 questions:
  • What are the key seats in your organization?
  • What percentage of those seats can you say with confidence are filled with the right people?
  • What are your plans for increasing that percentage?
  • What are your backup plans in the event that a right person leaves a key seat?
Choose your leaders well.

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