Young at Heart

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In his latest post, Dr. John Kotter offers advice for companies looking to get back on track in this competitive world. Read about how to avoid the life cycle path that stifles innovation, decreases agility and drives creative talent away.

As I write this, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of organizations in the United States alone moving predictably down a life cycle path. They start out fast and agile. Initially, they organize more as a network than as a hierarchy. They demonstrate a clear sense of urgency around a big opportunity, and many of their employees provide, in one way or another, some leadership on initiatives to achieve that opportunity.

Today, they are systematically – and obliviously – marching away from this dynamic because they are taking care of business and not watching what’s happening to them. They are marching towards a reliable and efficient hierarchy with systemic planning, budgeting, staffing, measurement, compensation, problem solving, and other systems. All sorts of forces move them down this path. Not the least of which is the fear that if they cannot operate reliably and efficiently, they will have terrible problems in the near future. But for the vast majority of enterprises, this pattern is not good news.

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