During the startup phase of a new business, it’s almost impossible for employees not to feel a feverish sense of excitement. A “crazy” idea becomes the germ of an organization. The company experiences growth, the business develops, demand exceeds capacity, and the company begins to expand and develop accordingly. But then success invites competition, growth slows, maturity sets in—and if you’re not careful, apathy occurs and the company is on its way out. Turnarounds, such as that experienced by IBM under Lou Gerstner, are possible, but it’s a much better bet to avoid the crash in the first place. Leadership coach Albert Vicere writes that “long-lasting organizations stay vital by resisting decay. As they mature, their leaders successfully manage the tension between innovation—doing things differently, offering unique products, changing the rules, and adaptation—and perfecting and improving existing products, services and processes. They realize that the healthiest organizational cultures maintain a balance between these two perspectives. They constantly strive to get better, yet they remain open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.”

The key, according to Vicere, is to avoid an “administrative mindset” focused on processes, rules and structure instead of passion and innovation.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 26 Jul 2004