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Is Your Organizational “Tree” Thriving or Decaying?

by | Culture

Key Points

  • Thriving means you have made good design decisions and they are bearing fruit.
  • Thriving is never an accident.
  • Decay eventually erodes the root system of the tree.
  • Decay is first seen as friction in the organization.
  • It is possible to measure the degree to which an organization is thriving and signs of decay that may exist.
Imagine a thriving organization. Do you see soaring profits, customers who are raving fans, happy engaged employees and the best talent clamoring to work for you? It might even be the absence of some things: employee turn-over or performance issues, customer complaints, delayed or lost shipments, manufacturing errors…

If you are thriving, congratulations! You have made some wise choices and they are paying off. Arthur Jones is widely quoted as saying “Every organization is perfectly designed to get what it gets.” Thriving is no accident and sustaining it in the face of today’s rapidly accelerating world and red ocean of competition requires disciplined focus and execution.

Thriving Defined

Thriving organizations matter to us so much that it is part of our name. To THRIVE means you are willing to put in the hard work required to achieve alignment and the results you are seeking. The fruits of a thriving tree are sales growth, customer delight, engaged employees and high margins. To thrive you must focus on building and sustaining:

T = Talent in the Right Seats
H = High Performing Culture
R = Road Map to the future
I = Innovation and Adaptability
V = Value Creation
E = Execution Excellence

If you are tending to the needs of your organization, you will enjoy all of the fruit that a healthy organizational tree will bear. If this is true for your organization, we might describe you as:

A Team comprised of great talent, that is engaged and enlivened by a High Performing Culture, guided by a clear Road Map to the future that creates alignment and synergy. Your road map and culture support Innovation and Adaptability to ensure the organization can flex and flow in the face of change to create and sustain Value for your core customers. Your Execution Excellence ensures you deliver on your promises and maintain healthy margins.

When partnering with our clients, more often times than not, we find needs that are not being tended to or are being tended to in ineffective ways, throwing off the whole system. When this happens, we will see early signs of decay often in the form of friction and described by those who live in it as “confusing, frustrating and underperforming.” This friction reduces your efficiency and effectiveness and takes attention away from serving customers or building for the future as the focus turns internally to putting out fires and surviving in a political system.

Any element of DECAY can signal greater problems in the future

Left unaddressed, the friction from misalignment becomes chronic and leads to damage of the tree’s root system. For a while, this slow erosion might not be noticed, or might get explained away such as “it is normal for sales and operations to point fingers, blame and throw each other under the bus.”

If you are looking for possible erosion in your company, we offer the acronym DECAY:

D = Discipline Disintegrating
E = Entrepreneurialism Waning
C = Controls Overtaking Processes
A = Apathy toward Customers Emerging
Y = Yielding to Destructive Behaviors

Discipline disintegrating – the rigor required to ensure organizational efficiency and effectiveness is lost or was never strongly in place. People do things their way, not the company way.

Entrepreneurialism waning – the organization loses its appetite for risk and plays it too safe. People aim to not rock the boat and would rather hold onto the current cash cows than risk anything new.

Controls Overtaking Processes – this is the proliferation of red tape and bureaucracy that stifles creative thinking and problem solving. Thick procedural binders and hiding behind the statement “that’s our policy” are typical expressions of this.

Apathy to Customers Emerging – there exists no mechanism to track changes in customer need or behaviors. When customers complain, they are ignored.

Yielding to Destructive Behaviors – self-serving behaviors begin to dominate the culture. Silos, CYA activities, backstabbing and blame take hold, creating a negative cycle that feeds on itself.

Where does your organization stand on THRIVE and DECAY? Click here to take our quiz.

We have a Vital Signs Dashboard to track your health over time. It can help you focus on the right actions to ensure a healthy tree (organization) now and in the future. We can create a custom version for your organization.

Click for a PDF version of the sample dashboard.

Sample Dashboard

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