The Killing Shift
Organisations are like human beings. An organisation is created in the image of man!
Organisations come to life, live, and die very much like human beings do. The average life expectancy of a multi national corporation is 40 to 50 years. The life expectancy of humans is approximately 50% higher.
Organisations though, have also been known to survive and live for hundreds of years at a time.
An interesting fact is that almost 90% of the companies that survived for longer than a hundred years had less than 300 employees.
Companies have also survived for more than a thousand years. The longest surviving Family Business existed for 1400 years and shut down in 2006.
My work, and passion, has been in the area of infusing life. A pre requisite skill is the ability to grasp not what the entity – individual or corporation – has already achieved, but to discover the current purposes of that individual, organisation or brand.
Perhaps the most common affliction in organisations is the shift of purpose, from Product to Power.
For individuals perhaps the most common affliction is the shift from Responsibility to Right. (We can’t see it for ourselves; because it’s so right for us we don’t see how it’s irresponsible)
Amongst the many other possible reasons, it is this shift, which primarily kills individuals and organisations.
An enterprise is an idea.
Organisations are the body – arms, legs, heart, muscles, blood and brain, which enable it to produce that idea tangibly. The idea is the “Breath’ that brings organisations to life.
It dies when this breath leaves.
The idea of an organisation can never be to make money.
Money is the blood that keeps enterprises alive and transmits the ‘life’ of that enterprise throughout the organisation.
Money is not the life itself, but the vehicle by which the life transmits itself through the body of the enterprise.
The life of the organisation is in the Idea…In its Purpose.
It’s the idea that needs a body. Not a body that needs an idea.
The curse is to adopt an idea the enterprise has no body for.
In Family Businesses, this is often the adoption of the idea that since I am an owner the disciplines of management do not apply to me.
Individuals mostly adopt the idea that “I am life” or that “My body and its comforts/wants is life.”
The system continually tests the integrity of the hull. (You know as the pressure of the waters on its hull, tests a submarine that descends into the depths of the ocean.)
Integrity is unique to us, and our particular raison d’etre. It simply cannot be copied or imitated. It is most aptly defined as: the ways you adopt to fulfill your purpose.
If the idea we possess itself is corrupt, what hope do we have of sustaining integrity?
Companies can and have lived for more than 1,400 years.
Organisations, just like men, die because of a loss of integrity.
It is not that we are losing our bodies. It is that we have lost our purpose.