When The Organization’s Conscience Dies

by Jay Deragon on 07/30/2012

Without a set of strategic principles there is no common belief. Without common beliefs there is no internalization of beliefs. An organization without internalization of common beliefs cannot have a strategy. Organizations with no strategy can be seen as the walking dead.

Walking dead organization look a lot like Zombies. A Zombie describes organizations hypnotized by repetitive management behaviors bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. But the response is void of rationale or reason.  They simply keep doing the same things over and over while expecting different results.

Everyone has seen them and many actually work in these organizations. They are identified by the fact that what they say does not match up with what they do. You know, things like vision and mission statements followed by a set of organizational principles that no one believes or follows. Why? Because their organizational conscience has died due to a lack of leadership.  When an organization looses it conscience it is incapable to learning right from wrong and thus doing the right things and doing things right isn’t even a guiding principle. When the organizations conscience dies everyone becomes a Zombie.

Zombie Practices Create Zombie Companies

An Inc Magaine article states :The late Alex d’Arbeloff, founder of Teradyne, an electronics equipment supplier, explains A “walking dead” company is one that brings in enough revenue to keep going but never enough to take off.

Since then, I’ve come to understand how companies end up in this awful predicament. In a desire to stay afloat, they chase revenue, any revenue. That means they end up taking on work that isn’t particularly strategic. They often under-price it just to close the deal quickly. In a cash crunch, they often hurry, which means they don’t listen as well as they should, or invest enough time understanding client needs. That means the work often goes over budget and way over schedule so the cash crunch continues. To get out of it, the company takes on yet more non-strategic work and the cycle continues.  via Strategy & Planning Are Not Optional | Inc.com.

The conscience of the Zombie organization has been the measure of revenue growth. The problem with that is any Zombie can chase revenue only to be destroyed by the chase.

Living Organizations Are Lead By Conscience Leaders

Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a vision. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity from the internalization of organizational principles set by leadership.  Internalization is when people accept a belief or behavior and agree both publicly and privately. Beliefs and behaviors are molded by doing the right things and doing things right.

For the 21st century organization what matters most is living values. Living values is the bond that creates living organizations.  A living organization is one whose conscience, not revenue or profit, guides everyone’s decisions and the subsequent organizational behaviors.

Living organizations are lead by leaders with a conscience.


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