Monday, November 2, 2009

Re-creating leaders and organisations - not a "phoenix"

A few weeks ago we lost our older and much loved Belgian Shepherd to cancer. It was the second time cancer has hit our family or pets. In talking with friends, virtually everyone I know has been affected by cancer in a family member or a pet or, like us, in both.

I am not an oncologist and I have no real knowledge of oncology but, from a recent TV documentary, I understand that at least some cancer cells are normal body cells that refuse to die when they should. Instead of allowing natural events to take their course, these are cells that become feral and so create problems.

Some people have asked me whether a re-created organisation is the same as a phoenix organisation. The answer is a resounding "NO!"

A phoenix organisation, at least in Australia, is one in which the owners have run the organisation in such a way that it eventually fails and, while the owners do very nicely, the organisation's creditors lose out totally. In the meantime the owners "laugh all the way to the bank". Once the washing up is completed, the owners start a new business in the same industry - very often from the same premises - and repeat the cycle. Only the name is different. To my mind this phoenix approach is malignant and akin to the cells that create cancer.

A re-created organisation is totally different.

Outside my window is a magnificent bougainvillea. Now, in the spring, it is bursting with colour but only a few weeks ago it was a barren cluster of grey-brown twigs and branches. it had been alive all winter but had nothing to show for any effort the plant may have been making - it was in survival mode.

This provides a metaphor for the re-created organisation.

A re-created organisation is a basically healthy organisation that needs to rethink what it is doing and how it does it. It is an organisation that has, in effect, been dormant for some time - lots of effort but no results - and is now seeking a new way forward.

What I love most about re-creating leaders and organisations is that I can bring them out of winter and into spring.

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