Are All Organizations This Crazy?

People frequently ask me, “Are all organizations like this?”  This political?  This crazy? Yes and no.  All organizations are functional and dysfunctional in their own ways.  Like families.  Even the very best organizations rub some people the wrong way.

Organizations are combinations of people, personalities, power structures, networks, needs, wants and everything else you can think of.  Organizations are environments.  They are ecosystems.  You can’t control them.  You can  only control how you interact and react to them.  You can understand them.  The more you understand how organizations in general work and how yours specifically works, the more successful you will be.


We all have a tendency to think “it’s all about me.”  The problems I’m having in this organization are unique.  This organization is unique.  My boss is unique. My relationship to my peers is unique.  And, of course, to a certain extent, that is  true.  There are significant commonalities, however, across organizations.

Ichak Adizes has done research and writing about organization life cycles.,  His theory is that all organizations grow through a series of life-cycle steps and have predictable problems and behaviors at each step.  His theory is that all organizations (if they make it) go through:

  • Courtship
  • Infancy
  • GoGo
  • Adolescence
  • Prime
  • Stable
  • Aristocracy
  • Early Bureaucracy
  • Bureaucracy
  • Death

All of these steps (like bureaucracy and death) aren’t inevitable, but it requires leadership to take specific steps to reset the organization to an earlier life stage.

If you understand, however, which stage your organization is in, then you can see the organization differently.  It isn’t so much crazy as struggling with where it is and what it is trying to get done.  You can stop being so affected by what’s going on around you and start being effective.

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Filed under Career Development, Executive Development, Personal Change

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