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While I was at our company retreat I had the opportunity to discuss the aspects and benefits of positive constructive conflict and separating the people from the problem to our entire organization I learned from your program. I was approached by numerous coworkers who thanked me for what I said. One in particular said, "thank you for saying that, we need to figure out ways to work together so things do not get out of control."

--Retreat participant

Organizational Stages... Where are You?

One useful way to understand organizations is called "stage theory" which posits that organizations, like individuals, enter and exit stages that require different knowledge, skills, and abilities. An interesting conversation with leadership is to consider which stage your organization is either in or trying to transition from, and what would be helpful at this time. Successful organizations build on past experience and have fairly predictable stages.

Stage I organizations are concerned primarily with:

  • What business they are in
  • Who are the clients
  • How to connect with the clients
  • How to maximize entrepreneurial type leadership
  • Figuring out "What works?"

Stage II organizations are focused on:

  • Improving their product or services
  • How to honor the entrepreneurial and move on
  • Securing leadership who manage a fairly clearly defined product or service set
  • Figuring out "What makes it better?"

Stage III organizations are concerned with:

  • How the outside environment affects who we are and how we do business
  • Examining longer term issues such as prevention
  • Securing innovative leadership which examines what clients and stakeholders really want and reshapes the organization.
  • How to transform or evolve from maintenance to vision..."What next?"

Although each stage isn't a tidy box, and there isn't a clean break at each stage, in the transition area, organizational leadership, staff and board must take time to assess what is happening in both the organization and the environment.

© Lunell Haught, PhD, CMC

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