September 1, 2014
Growing companies come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Some have even been described as elephants, gazelles and mice. But regardless of their size and speed, a growing company must inevitably struggle with the interrelationship between flexibility and controllability. It must also confront each stage of growth as a welcome change. Below are some signs of a corporate lifecycle that were described in Corporate Lifecycles by Ichak Adizes, founder and director of Los Angeles-based Adizes Institute, an international management-consulting firm.
- When organizations are young, they're flexible, but not always controllable. As they age, they become more controllable, but less flexible
- What causes growing and aging is neither size nor time. A company can be 100 years old and flexible. It can be 10 years old and bureaucratic
- At each stage of the lifecycle, there are problems. You must learn to differentiate between normal problems, which emerge at a particular stage, and abnormal problems, which can lead to the demise of the company
- Success comes from the inside out. You have to solve the problems on the inside so you can deal with the ones on the outside
- The purpose of management is to provide for balanced growth or rejuvenation, bring the organization to prime and keep it there
- Aging is a process that does not have to occur. An organization can remain in prime, if it can continuously rejuvenate itself.
Personnel Journal, August 1994, Vol.73, No. 8, p. 73.