Organizational Death... A Taboo?

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Growth Phases > Best Practices > Organizational Death... A Taboo?

Organizational Death... A Taboo?
Another approach is to take a broader and cyclic view and see an organization as a human or organism going through a full Organizational Life Cycle. Organizational Life Cycles typically describe the following 6 phases or stages: 1. Birth (introduction, founding) 2. Growth 3. Maturity (formalization) 4. Renewal (revitalization) 5. Decline 6. Death.
A problem with all models is the death stage, which seems hard to define for organizations (unlike biological death).
Interestingly, by focusing on the growth stages only, Greiner entirely leaves out the Birth AND the Decline AND the Death stages (1, 5 and 6).
Organizational death is not a very popular concept...

Not sure
Not sure about any taboo ... anything with a beginning shall have an ending. As a natural phenomenon, there doesn't have to be any significant issue on the death of organizations. Strictly business sense will be the "costs and benefits" of each stage and the ultimate gain of the entire cycle.

Enron had a long tail on its last phase. The back side of the "bell curve" can be rather sharp. The S&L crisis pointed that out. Many times the company doesn't die but should. Rather it gets broken up, sold off and then shattered into unrecognizable pieces through M&A, etc.

Death Myth
Will Mason
I think Germaine needs to read Griener's original article, and the follow up article HBR.
The Greiner model is like human maturity. It is a quasi-psychological analogue. There's no "death" in that cycle. The Dali Lama for example suggests we reincarnate and continue to mature.
OK reincarnation is a bit left field -- Is it really? Look at Edison Electric - GEC - GE; BHP - BHP Billiton.
Organisations mature to different stages. Death is not part of the model it is a physical state, or a crisis as correctly pointed out. Cheers... Will

Human Resources
Mamta Wasan
Very interesting model. Would be interesting to know what kind of leadership traits exist at each level. How can each stage's stengths be maximised and what can HR professionals do to better handle each stage

Org. Life Cycle (maturity Model) Vs. Greiner's
Melissa Breger, Program Manager, United States, Member
I always wondered about this... how Greiner's model doesn't have the 'decline' curve which is illustrated more distinctly on the product (industry) life cycle or Org. life cycle maturity model. My thinking is that either way if an organization doesn't address it's crisis in development wherever than perhaps it's implied really that it would only fall backwards, which would connect these two models together. Therefore they both only imply that an organization needs to keep thinking ahead on it's next development stage or it stagnates or even falls to it's own demise...
Great question and post! :)

Continuous Improvement
Adefope Adeyinka, Teacher, Nigeria, Member
Growth doesn't have to cease but it can indeed stagnate. Organizational concepts should include room for improvement, not necessarily expansion.

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