Aging vs Emerging: The way organizations reinvent itself

Image by K. Kendall via Flickr

Why we are aging? Because we live! Living means we are continuously aging.

So do organizations……more and less.

Just like us, organizations are some sort of a living entity. They were conceived from the seeds of ideas of their founders. In their early days, they all started as simple structure consists of enthusiastic people. Like most teenagers, young organizations are mostly flexible and vigorous. I believe this is simply because they still in a simple shape, which makes them flexible. And, they have people with a strong grip on the fundamental ideas upon which those organizations were originated from.

As organizations grow up, they tend become less flexible, heavier, less agile, and overwhelmingly complex. They tend to see their ideas as an everlasting and unquestionable beliefs.

As we get older, we tend to be less responsive to change. So do organizations. As they are aging, they tend to become big fat slow giants with less adaptability for change. They tend to become dinosaurs.

And we all know what happen with dinosaurs. They extinct.

For us as human being, death is natural and inevitable. As horrifying it can be for some people, death is a consequence of our inability to renew ourselves to the cellular level. This, however, is not the case for organizations.

An organization has the ultimate potential to renew itself, and it roots on its ability to renew itself from the cellular level. In organizations, people are their cells. People will eventually leave or retire, and new people will be recruited. This is supposedly to be continuous. Therefore, if things happen naturally in organizations, internal change is inevitable. New people will reframe the fundamental ideas into forms that fit better with new environment and new era. New people will bring new energy and new resourceful potentials.

When people are naturally renewed, the organizations is not aging, but continuously emerging.

But this is not something that should be taken for granted. Renewal is not something that happens automatically. Renewal should come from intentional effort. Why? Because we, human beings, as the cells of the organization, is by nature tend to age and die. Renewal is not our natural tendency. Therefore, we tend to refuse to renew ourselves. In addition, when we get older and we are in the higher positions in the organization; most of us have become less adaptive and less responsive to change.

This is the paradox. In many organizations, organization’s renewal depends on the decision form the top. But, most top positions are filled by people who have been extremely influenced by the old habits. In other words, top positions as the brain of the organizations often filled with the most aging cells. When an organization recruits new people, this does not necessarily renew the organization as a whole, since these ‘fresh blood’ have to age enough to fuel the organization’s ‘brain’. Unfortunately, when they are aging, they are no longer fresh.

Successful organizations realize this, and they use knowledge management and learning organization system to renew the organization continuously. They are emerging organizations who continuously reinvent themselves, instead of just aging while waiting for the end of days. These emerging organizations also put their best efforts to get and nurture new people with fresh ideas, better flexibility and invigorating energy; which eventually make sure that they have the best talents ready for the organization future.

This is the essential of talent management as an effort to create an emerging organization, not aging organization.

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3 thoughts on “Aging vs Emerging: The way organizations reinvent itself

  1. There are at least two school of thought in this matter; the first argues that change is something inevitable. You just need to do your things, and then it will come to you. The second argues that change is something that need to be well planned. Therefore, it is something voluntary. There are others who try to create middle way. However, I sense that your position is in parallel with the second school of thought; the voluntary one. I also have the same position.

    What is your remarks to the first school of thought; that change is something natural, and you just need to open yourself to it, like the arguments of the “Taoist” managers?

    1. Actually, my stand is not with the ‘planned change’ perspective. In fact, I agree with the statement that change management is actually an oxymoron.
      I learn that change has a life of its own. It happens in a way it wants to happen. Thus, it’s natural and inevitable. You can say that I agree with the first school of thought.

      However, the way each of us respond to change is voluntary. Therefore, it also can be planned. If we can collectively respond to it in systemic way, we will influence how things are changing.
      So, you can see me as one of those Taoist managers 😉

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