The Adizes Methodology, my reference model for all of the concern structure models gathered for this study, can be difficult to describe. It has called a management intervention technique, a business revitalization program and an organizational therapy. It is an eleven-phase methodology developed by Ichak Adizes, formerly a professor from the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. The Adizes Methodology is a set of practices and procedures for optimizing organizational function on an ongoing basis. These practices are carried out by the management team of Adizes client organizations, facilitated by Adizes or one of his licensed associates. One stated goal of the Methodology is to help organizations reach and remain in a dynamic state that optimally balances flexibility and control as conditions change. This state is called Prime.
The Methodology itself – the explicit 11-phase process used to diagnose and solve problems within the organization – is a proprietary resource available only to Adizes clients. However, the conceptual
framework supporting that Methodology is in the public domain, having been published in many forms. The Adizes Methodology is typically understood to include this conceptual framework, such that the term ‘Methodology’ is flexibly used to apply both to the publicly available conceptual material and the 11-phase proprietary intervention plan. My use of the terms ‘Adizes’ and ‘Adizes Methodology’ refers only to the conceptual framework, not the intervention program.
Books on the Adizes conceptual framework include Mastering Change, Managing Corporate Lifecycles,
Management/Mismanagement Styles, Leading the Leaders and The Ideal Executive, among others, described in more detail at www.adizes.com.
Table of Contents
Situating the Adizes Methodology
Conceptually, the Adizes Methodology is a contingency theory of human organizations, which makes use of a competing values framework to describe management dynamics and organizational lifecycle dynamics. Contingency or congruency theories in organizational studies emphasize that there is no single best type of organization. Instead, these theories emphasize the importance of fit (Aldrich, 1979). Fitness can be described as the ‘aligning’ or ‘matching’ of organizational resources to environmental opportunities and threats (Andrews, 1971; Chandler, 1962).
'Organizational resources' must be taken to include both collective and individual management styles, abilities, behaviors, values and aspirations (Szilagyi & Schweiger, 1984; Tichy, 1982). Peters and Waterman (1982) summarize these resources as seven “S’s”: strategy, structure, systems, style, staff, skills and shared values. Organizations that fit their circumstances well align all of these elements with each other and with external opportunities and threats. Achieving this fit is the essence of good management, on the contingency theory view.
The concept of a competing values theory, which I use here as a general term, was initially developed by Quinn et al. to describe their own theoretical approach to management intervention and pedagogy. The Adizes Methodology can be described as a contingency theoretical approach to organizational management that analyses all the components of fitness using a competing values (or concern structure) framework.
PAEI: The Adizes Concern Structure Model
There are several ways to introduce the Adizes model of the structure of concern. Most of them involve introducing some key distinctions between the competing values in question. For example, two competing values underlying the Adizes model (among others) are the values of effectiveness and efficiency. These two values are different, and not entirely compatible, in that both cannot be maximized simultaneously.
In the Adizes Methodology, effectiveness is defined as “obtaining results which somebody needs”, and efficiency is defined as “conducting activities with minimal waste”. We can obtain needed results very quickly and reliably if we spare no cost in obtaining them, but then our resources will be depleted and unavailable for more work. We must also conserve our resources and work efficiently. However, over-concern with efficiency can lead to activities being under-resourced, which can compromise the attainment of results.
Determining a suitable trade-off between the mobilization and conservation of energy is thus necessary for every decision, and this judgment must be made under conditions of some risk or uncertainty. However, taking both concerns explicitly into account when deciding makes it much easier to adapt and adjust the trade-off quickly in the early stages of implementation. Striking a workable balance between effectiveness and efficiency in the attainment of our goals is important for reaching a quality decision.
Adizes also introduces a temporal dimension that cuts across the effectiveness/efficiency dimension. Decisions can be effective and efficient in the short run, but over longer periods of time those decisions can be shown to be ineffective and inefficient. One effective way to end a conflict between two employees is to fire both of them. No more conflict! As a general strategy, however, this approach to conflict will depopulate the organization. It is not effective in the long run.
Similarly, it can be more efficient in the short term to reduce job redundancy and minimize job overlap. But if no one knows much about their neighbors’ jobs, then when someone is ill or away, others cannot take up the slack. The whole overspecialized team might be immobilized if one of the specialists is unavailable. Allowing some overlap facilitates learning, so that team members can fill in for each other when needed. The imperatives of short-term efficiency and long-term efficiency are not identical to each other.
Short term effectiveness and efficiency alone are inadequate. Quality decisions must be both effective and efficient in the short and long run. These four functional horizons are illustrated below:
Layered over these four functional horizons, Adizes describes four corresponding activities: Producing, Administrating, Entrepreneuring and Integrating. These activities address short-term and long-term effectiveness and efficiency.
In the Adizes framework, Producing is the activity of attaining short term or immediate results, and Administrating is the activity of minimizing waste in ongoing activities. Entrepreneuring is the activity of seeking out and recognizing new opportunities or new orientations to the environment, and Integrating is the activity of coordinating shared attention and identification. Integration keeps organizations socially and functionally cohesive, preventing them from degenerating into mechanical, purely formally interrelated collections of functionally isolated individuals. When it operates properly, the organization becomes an organic unit that can survive even when key people leave the organization. Integration makes a whole that is more than the sum of its parts – one in which no single person on the team is indispensable. Any individual can step down from their position to be replaced by someone else, and the organization will still be what it is.
One advantage of the Adizes Methodology as a frame of reference for this study is that Adizes abbreviates his four categories of Producing, Administrating, Entrepreneuring and Integrating using just the four first letters of each word – PAEI. This makes it easier to disembed the concerns he lists for each value set, taking them out of their context in organizational studies to apply them more broadly as a possible features of some larger reality.
It might seem easy to make good quality decisions, since we only need to consider four simple concerns. However, people are very likely to disagree on the right balance of priorities for any given situation. Each concern requires decision-makers to adopt certain preoccupations, motivations, values, instincts and priorities. But due to personal preferences, some concerns appeal to us more than others. We each have biases towards or away from different styles of concern. Furthermore, we are very unlikely to be equally skilled at solving problems in all four styles of concern, because talent in one biases against talent in others (e.g. a talent for quick, snap decisions and a talent for long, careful meticulous decisions are hard to maximize within the same person).
An implication is that something in our biological organization makes it impossible to operate with equal brilliance in all four quadrants of concern. We are not wired up to be extremely talented in all four styles of concern at once. Most people will have a dominant style, a second strong style, a third competent style and a final weak style. We can attain ‘foursquare’ excellence only by teaming up with other people whose talents and preferences are different from ours. This creates synergy. It also necessarily entails conflict among collaborators.
If it is kept constructive, conflict is a positive development. Incompatibilities on teams can be leveraged to produce better group decisions by ensuring that all four functional horizons receive due consideration. Teams can thereby accomplish the well-rounded decisionmaking that individuals will always find more difficult to do, given the inevitability of personal biases and preferences. To understand conflict in decision-making, and to use it constructively rather than destructively, these
preferences and biases have to be generally understood.
Adizes illustrates these biases through the construction of four allegorical or prototypical personality profiles: the Producer, the Administrator, the Entrepreneur and the Integrator. These characters
exemplify the styles he describes. They are introduced below, and they illustrate the structure of concern in the field of personality, although the characters are clearly simplified. Each one represents a single, unadmixed dominant style, rather than the unique mixture of all four styles that
characterizes most adult human beings.
Adizes Prototypical Management Styles
Producers are high energy, active people. They like to be busy all the time, and their interests are overwhelmingly concrete. They love to attain tangible results, and to attain them often. They feel highly rewarded every time they can declare a task complete. Producers dislike fussy details, ambiguous situations or abstract considerations. They have little patience with future-oriented tasks and wild brainstorming. They are much more interested in getting a task done than they are in ensuring that their colleagues are happy with the way it got done. They will denigrate these kinds of interpersonal concerns, feeling that the rapid attainment of concrete results justifies the suspension of other concerns. This can make them unpleasant to be around at times, but they are responsible for driving many organizational achievements. Producers help us stop talking about solutions
and start implementing on them.
Administrators are quiet, cautious people who are less concerned with what we should do than how we should do it. They need to know what process or procedure we are planning to use before they can join in on the action. They are extremely uncomfortable with ambiguity or uncertainty, and they are made uneasy by unstructured environments and by group reliance on spontaneity and improvisation. Unplanned activities feel distressingly chaotic to them. Administrators prefer to construct a system of routines and conventions for ongoing activities, so they can be conducted in the smoothest and least disruptive manner possible. In organizational contexts, they bring stability and order to collective activities. They are slow and careful in decision-making because they track each detail to make certain it is handled properly. They also weigh the impact of any proposed changes on the entire stabilizing network of rules that they maintain. They may say “no” to new proposals as a reflex, in order to slow things down so they can think through the proposal and deliver a revised opinion once they have worked through their concerns. Administrators may see Producers as sloppy loose canons wreaking havoc upon organizational operations. Producers may see
Administrators as fussy obstructionists.
Entrepreneurs are easily typecast as dreamers. They are not interested in the results we are attaining today, and would rather focus on bigger potential achievements in the future. Entrepreneurs feel stifled by the demands of ongoing activities. The here-and-now is a trap. Entrepreneurs are energized by novel challenges, exciting opportunities, new possibilities and future achievements. They are talkative and charismatic. Their excitement is highly infectious, and they love being at the center of attention. They are flamboyant, expressive and very easily bored. They can come up with several very different grand future schemes every few minutes, when inspired.
Entrepreneurs scan the environment constantly for changes, in their drive for novelty. They love aligning themselves with new developments, and fomenting more change in those new directions. They track activities at a very high level of abstraction, looking for trends and anomalies. Producers are highly skeptical of this abstract exploration of mere possibilities, where there is a clear to-do list for the here and now. Administrators see Entrepreneurs as either irrelevant or dangerous. Entrepreneurs want to dramatically change the whole game an organization is playing, with no detailed sense of what the new rules will be. This cannot be squared easily with Administrator concerns about how to best do what we are currently doing.
Entrepreneurs are the only managers who seek out and stimulate major changes. They are easily dismissed, but it is fatal for organizations to shut them out. Change is inevitable, and the structure of Entrepreneurial agency allows them to help the whole team anticipate and adapt to change in
a timely, proactive manner.
Integrators are team-builders with the organization. They manage the interpersonal, interdepartmental, supplier and client relationships that allow the organization to function together as one organic whole. They attend to peoples’ needs, views, motivators, complaints and conflicts to foster a constructive working environment. Integrators help people focus on shared goals. They are less concerned about formal roles and titles, and more concerned that people pull together, each and all doing whatever it takes to achieve their collective mission. The measure of an Integrator’s success is his or her ability to take a vacation. He or she can step away from the organization for periods of time because it is well Integrated and functions as an organic whole.
In meetings where Producers are pushing for a quick decision about what to do, Administrators are slowing things down to make sure we carefully consider how best to proceed, and Entrepreneurs are questioning why we are even doing any of that now, when a new long-term plan is more attractive, Integrators are thinking about who we are, who is in the room and who our other stakeholders are. Integrators are trying to align concerns and interests, turning us into a combined and unified (organically integrated) force, in touch (integrated) with our social surroundings.
Producers do not have adequate patience for integration work. Their impatience is important for rapid task execution, but they typically tolerate damage to team integration in order to get things done. Administrators are more abstract in their focus than Integrators. In administrative mode, persons are defined according to roles specified in policies and procedures. No procedure defines the unique elements of interpersonal or group interaction that Integrators are so attentive to and aware of.
Entrepreneurs are also less concrete than Integrators. They can get lost in hypothetical futures. They prefer to be at the center of attention rather than sharing the spotlight, let alone stepping into the wings to observe and support others. None of these other three management styles focus on people in the way that Integrators do. They all focus in one way or another on tasks. Integration is the only function focused on the organization itself as a group of people pulling together to exert more power as a team than any of them could do individually.
Conflict of Styles
As mentioned earlier, the four characters mentioned above are allegorical. The Adizes Methodology holds that under normal circumstances, all people are able to operate in all four management modes. However, we are naturally strongest in only one of the four styles, almost from birth. A secondary style develops as we mature, and by adulthood we are usually very capable in our second mode. A third style can be learned with more effort, and in our weakest style we can function but will almost always benefit from some help. Our accomplishments in our weakest mode will never be as swift, easy and natural as achievement in our dominant modes. Teaming up with someone whose style profile complements ours is the only way to address all four horizons of concern with equal competence. In order for this teaming up to work, we have to respect the different values and priorities of our complementary partners. Conflict is guaranteed, but mutual respect keeps it
Our inability to be strongly talented in all four styles does not stem from any particular human frailty. The styles themselves are in conflict, such that strong performance on one of them requires characteristics that work against strong performance in others. The following table illustrates some of these conflicts.
Different styles use different tactics to realize different strategies. When people lack respect for other styles, this can lead them to devalue the imperatives and concerns proper to the other styles. If this devaluation is extreme, the person may cease to function in the devalued style. They may
even cease to recognize the existence of that class of concerns. They begin to manage all of their problems with the conspicuous disregard of a whole category of concerns, and their decisions begin to show predictable patterns of failure. The unbalanced kind of management that ensues is called
mismanagement in the Adizes Methodology.
The complete loss of even one style results in mismanagement and predictable patterns of failure, but the clearest and most visible forms of mismanagement arise when full reliance is placed on one and only one management style. All other styles and priorities are denigrated and disrespected.
These mismanagement styles help to highlight the competing values within the model. They are described below, one for each PAEI element.
Adizes Mismanagement Styles
The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is a perpetually busy manager who only cares about results. Lone Rangers are perfectly willing to trample over peoples’ feelings, to violate proper procedure, and to cut short discussions about possibilities just so that known tasks can be executed quickly. Quality of
execution matters much less than task completion. Lone Rangers prefer to do all tasks themselves, because for any one task it is easier and quicker for them to do it themselves rather than training someone else to do it. This has the ironic outcome that Lone Rangers – who are interested in rapid execution to the exclusion of all else – end up becoming bottlenecks in the organization where work sometimes grinds to a near halt. Lone Rangers do not build effective work teams around them. Their employees tend to become simple errand-runners for the Lone Ranger as he or she manages tasks by crisis.
Lone Rangers leave work late and arrive early the next day in order to get things done. Their employees leave early and arrive late, because there is essentially nothing for them to do.
Lone Rangers make poor managers because they try to manage tasks directly, rather than managing the team that does the tasks. Their strong preference for concrete, tangible results and their inability to assess other kinds of outcomes leads to this untenable situation. Lone Rangers place a
severe limitation on the capacity of a team to grow. The team never gains the capacity to do more work than the Lone Ranger him or herself is capable of doing.
Unlike Lone Rangers, Bureaucrats do not care about concrete or tangible results in the slightest. However, they are extremely concerned with how things are done, with procedures, rules and practices. They spend their time scrutinizing behavior on their teams to make sure that prescribed
methods are being followed. If an employee was to circumvent a rule or two to accomplish some important task, this would be a disaster. The Bureaucrat would devote all energies to punishing the wrongdoer for side-stepping a rule, completely ignoring the important results that this side-stepping made possible. No results in the world would justify “taking shortcuts”. Just because taking shortcuts worked this time does not mean it will work next time. Rather, total chaos and an unspeakable cascade of complications might occur, violating rule after rule after rule. Better to follow the rules – that’s the point. The rules say we should follow the rules, and so those are the rules we should follow. It’s the only way.
Bureaucrats hate improvisation and uncertainty in work behavior. They develop and release policies and procedures for everything, firmly believing that any policy is better than no policy around a task. Subordinates are expected to demonstrate that they followed proper procedure in everything they do, and innovation or improvisation is either discouraged or positively punished. The rules are seen as the guarantee that the team will not get into trouble. Bureaucrats end up managing the rules, with no attention paid to the experiences of stakeholders outside of the rules. The organization
may become insolvent and go under, but it will do so on time and according to regulations.
Everyone in bureaucratic organizations leaves work on time and arrives on time the next day. In the interim, they manage to look busy and keep things neat and well-organized, whether or not they are doing work that actually delivers any real value to internal or external stakeholders. The irony of bureaucracy is that the desire for order leads to such a massive proliferation of rules and policies that people become disoriented. The drive for order produces chaos, and the destruction that rules were put in place to prevent ends up sweeping away the whole work unit, which has stopped
delivering value to stakeholders.
In their own minds, Arsonist are visionaries, about to revolutionize the world and garner the attention of all due to their genius and originality. Their favorite event is the announcement: the announcement of a new grand plan, great vision, new direction, innovative campaign, etc. They love these announcements and the commotion that they cause. They love to see their employees cheer and scramble to reorganize themselves in order to enact a new vision. The problem is, after a short period of time, once all the excitement dies down and the hard work of implementing the plans begins in earnest, Arsonists begin to get bored. In their boredom, they begin to dream up new grand schemes and new directions. This all builds up to a new announcement and a new great vision for employees to follow. The old projects they had been giving their attention to are now seen as irrelevant.
Since this happens with great regularity, employees are constantly forced to change directions. Their manager only appears among them to start new fires, watching everyone scramble to cope with them. Employees are eventually forced to ignore their manager – to applaud enthusiastically to
newly announced ideas, but to ignore the substance of those new announcements and to continue working on some project or another to the point of completion. The irony of the Arsonist is that someone who craves being at the center of everyone’s attention and esteem ends up being
irrelevant, marginalized and ignored by all around them.
The Super Follower
Super Followers are consummate political animals. They often have no sense of any of the issues that are at stake, but they have an extremely strong awareness of the conditions for political survival surrounding those issues. Super Followers thus do not stand for or represent anything in
particular. They simply echo or parrot back the mood and language of the powerful or the dominant clique. Super Followers are sometimes so good at following that they do so before anyone has a chance to lead. They will gauge the mood, tone and emerging consensus of a meeting, and then stand up and articulate that consensus as if it was their own contribution. They will only do this when they feel certain of the consensus, however. Super Followers are conflict averse, so if they are confronted with some residual conflict while they try to articulate the consensus, they may shift their articulated position on a dime, so as always to seem to be in agreement with whoever they are interacting with. This kind of face-to-face agreement characterizes all of their interactions with important or powerful people. The issues don’t matter. Being on the right side is the only thing they care about.
Super Followers like one particular type of subordinate; one who listens in on conversations, who has friends throughout the organization, and who feeds this information to the Super Follower to help him or her in political intrigue – a gossip. Super Followers do occasionally become leaders
of organizations, and when they do, they still seek out a powerful reference group to please. There will be a set of stakeholders, constituents or commentators that the Super Follower will try to impress and appease. They “govern by opinion poll”, taking no particular stand on any issues until it is clear what the reference group wants to hear.
It does not matter to the Super Follower if the organization drifts away from its actual mandate as a result of all of this impression management. It only matters if powerful onlookers criticize the Super Follower for allowing this drift to happen. They way things are is of no concern to the Super Follower. All that matters is the way things look. The irony of course is that a sole focus on form over function leads to scandalous failures of function that can expose a Super Follower for what he or she is, a confused mismanager with narrow priorities interested primarily in their own position, rather than the good of the whole organization. By worrying exclusively about looking good, they end up looking pathetically bad.
The truth is that in any adaptive situation, all four concerns are going to be relevant, though not to the same degree. In the organization of first response emergency services, for example, rational order and organization (A) are very important, to enable quick responses (P). However, complex and
cumbersome regulations can actually impede first responders, so finding the right balance of P and A is crucial for this predominantly Productive function. Similarly, training scenarios and simulations of possible disasters (E) are important for emergency preparedness, but these scenarios should not
be misrecognized as exhaustive of the true range of possible situations that first responders may be faced with (P). It must always be remembered that truth is stranger than fiction, and that P-style on-the-ground, results-driven flexibility matters more than prior rehearsal. Finally, I-style concerns
regarding the cohesiveness between different response services are important, as is the degree of Integration within the community being helped. Ideally, there will have been a long-term investment in I, since well integrated communities pull together in a crisis. If this was not done, the lack of I in a region will bedevil efforts to aid victims no matter how severe their privation.
In real situations, the right schedule of PAEI priorities can be very difficult to determine, and given the inevitable biases of individuals, assessing PAEI needs is fundamentally a team activity. It takes a minimum of two people with complementary PAEI strengths who also share mutual respect for each others’ relative strengths, to assess and make decisions that cover all PAEI priorities adequately. Their conflicting perspectives are what generate the information needed to make quality decisions. In order for that conflict to be productive, however, mutual respect must be preserved. Disrespect for any of the four concerns will lead to predictable patterns of failure or suboptimal performance, along with the ironic traps attendant to the various styles of individual or group mismanagement.
Adizes Organizational Lifecycles
The brief and incomplete survey of Adizes management and mismanagement styles above shows how the Adizes concern structure is manifested at the psychological level. Prior to that, we saw how the concern structure defined four functional imperatives of achieving long and short term effectiveness and efficiency. A third zone of application of concern structure thinking in the Adizes Methodology arises in the context of its theory of organizational lifecycle dynamics. (For another personality-typed organizational lifecycle model, see Bridges (2000)).
Like other lifecycle models, the Adizes organizational lifecycle describes several phases in the life of any project, from inception and growth through to maturation and decline. However, the Adizes lifecycle describes this maturational arc in PAEI (concern structure) terms. The lifecycle is
described in ten phases: Courtship, Infancy, Go-Go, Adolescence, Prime, Stable, Aristocracy, Early Bureaucracy, Late Bureaucracy and Death. Each phase has its unique PAEI needs, and specific consequences for PAEI mismatches. The phases and their concern structure requirements are
The phase of Courtship involves the potential founder of a new project or organization talking to others about the opportunity, building enthusiasm and support for the new idea. This lifecycle phase is dominated by the Entrepreneuring function. Dreams and ideas for new projects or enterprises
are exciting! The enthusiasm of the originator of the idea can be profoundly contagious, pulling other people into the excitement. This excitement is what fuels the creation of the founding team and the willingness of supporters to consider investment. A grand vision is being proposed. The potential new
founder is often very charismatic at this stage in the organizational lifecycle, impassioned and full of big dreams, though sketchy on details. The excitement must thus be directed towards motivating people to reality-test the new Entrepreneurial concept.
The concept must be tested. Some details need to be filled out. Although this is an E-dominant lifecycle stage, P and A cannot be absent. The realism of the dream must be assessed, but not too harshly. We must not dampen the growing excitement of the founding team too much. That
excitement must be harnessed to build commitment among people who join the enterprise, proportionate to the risks of the venture. If commitment does not develop, then the Courtship burns out as an Arson-like Affair, a product of E-style activity only, generating a lot of flash and noise but producing no lasting value.
Most new ventures die in Courtship. However, if the results of reality-testing are positive, and if the founders and their supporters make commitments of time, energy and resources to the project, it moves into the extraordinarily busy Infancy stage. Long-term visions take a back seat to securing the resources (cash) simply to stay afloat from moment to moment. The pressure for survival forces us to “make things up as we go along”. Few systems can be established, because of the opportunistic nature of all activities.
This is normal and not life-threatening. At this rate of change it would be a mistake to try to regularize behavior too much. It is also normal for delegation to be poor and uneven at this stage. Founders end up doing almost everything themselves, or they delegate in a haphazard, slightly Lone Ranger manner. A, E and I are not absent in Infancy, however. Longer-term strategies are needed, along with simple systems and support for team members, who will be facing extreme demands. If support dwindles, and if resource commitments to the Infant organization are too meager, it will suffer Infant Mortality, crumbling as an impossibly challenging enterprise with too little support.
After a cycle of E generating exciting new ideas and P making things happen out of raw materials and grit, the two energies come together to build on their successes. Following some hard effort, the organization will gain scope and some security of income (if the founding vision was clear in the
first place). The organization will be paying for itself, no longer requiring protection or support from the outside. The founders will be able to lean back and see the organization moving on its own steam, while at the same time opportunities for more work appear everywhere. The Go-Go organization is like a toddler, growing quickly, touching everything they come across, and
gaining new experience and capability all the time. Founders can come to have too many priorities, making it impossible for them to continue to lead the organization as individuals.
A challenging transition is required. Founders have to offload some decision-making control, delegating it to other members of the organization. Entrepreneurship has to be decentralized too, so that people can pursue initiatives of various kinds without consulting the founder for each and every
project. If over-centralized control is maintained (both P and E are focal or centralizing styles) then the organization will never grow any larger than that size which the founder can personally manage as a single individual. There will be a Lone Ranger-like bottleneck at the top of the organization, called the Founder’s Trap. In order to grow past this point, the organization has to grow bigger than the founding group can directly control. They have to reorganize themselves, and they have to learn how to work with others.
Adolescence is a rebirth and emergence into the phase of maturity. It requires the organization to take an inward turn, to analyze, organize and rationalize their own organizational structure. The previously sales-driven Infant-Go-Go culture (PE) must now focus on streamlining procedures,
trimming waste and boosting profits (A), even if that means that sales numbers go down. Furthermore, the ad hoc, relationship-based reporting lines and job descriptions need to be dissolved and replaced by a more principled organizational structure. Professional managers with business
school backgrounds may be hired to do this, but they will immediately be at odds with the founding group. The newcomers will treat the job as a job, and they will not understand all of the relationships and customs that were built up among the old-timers. There will be some pressure to oust these technocratic-seeming newcomers. Or alternatively, there may be pressure
applied by the new professional managers to oust the founders for their ad hoc, unschooled, intuitive manner of running a large company.
If these forces are not harmonized, a Divorce between the two factions may ensue. The old-timers (PE) may expel the newcomers (A), leading to an organization that almost but never quite reaches its full potential as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This kind of Divorce is named the Unfulfilled Entrepreneur, describing the inability of the founders to realize the full potential of their organization.
Alternatively, the newcomers (A) may take over and oust the founders, losing all of the energy, vision and insight (E) that the founding group has developed in creating the company from scratch. The remaining administratively-oriented technocratic managers will then rationalize the company, improve profits briefly, and then run out of ideas. The E that guides the company will be gone. This kind of Divorce is called Premature Aging. The ousting of E by A leads to an ossified organization that can no longer grow or adapt to changes in the marketplace.
Prime is the target state for any organization. Prime organizations have the flexibility to adapt to change and the control to produce predictable results. Prime results when the conflicts of adolescence are resolved, and Integration is achieved between A and E, creating a flexible structure. This flexible structure allows the organization to turn its attention outwards again,
producing results for clients with all of the vision and aggressiveness of a Go-Go organization, but in a much more predictable fashion. The organization can do more, and do better as well, continuing to enjoy efficiency gains from process improvements.
Tension between E and A – the forces for change and for stability – are always at odds, however, and the impulse to ignore directions or details and simply produce results is at odds with both. The Prime organization is thus always oscillating between the launch of new projects and new ventures,
and the day to day management of less volatile, older projects. If the organization grows complacent, it may delay or stop launching new projects, and just ride out the momentum of previous accomplishments. This manifests itself first as a lack of E. Losing E means the loss of the organization’s capacity for innovation. The company may still grow, but at a slower and slower rate. The complacent organization will eventually suffer a major reversal of fortune.
A stable organization is an organization in trouble. By all metrics the organization is still doing well, and there is a solid history of success behind it. The mood within the organization is self-congratulatory. The founders and other key managers may feel that they have finally “arrived”. They may feel that they have discovered the formulas for lasting success, and they may begin simply applying those formulas instead of attending to changing client needs. People feel secure in the dominant position of their organization. A sense of entitlement can come to characterize their attitude towards success, and they stop listening to others outside the organization, slowly losing touch with new changing developments. These organizations are often large, and they become slow in responding to change. They have crossed a crucial line between maturing and aging. They are starting to die.
If Stable organizations persist in their withdrawal from contact with the outside world, they degenerate further into Aristocracies. Cash piles up in Aristocratic organizations, which unlike Prime organizations have no new ventures lined up and waiting for investment. Aristocracies may buy other
organizations, often Go-Go companies, to try to inject the missing energy and vitality back into the group. However, the heavy top-down administration of Aristocratic organizations often smothers the energetic Go-Gos. Aristocracies are often takeover targets themselves, due again to their tendency to pile up cash. When they are taken into other organizations, their ineffectiveness and remoteness from their client base may become painfully obvious.
Aristocracies also invest in sumptuous headquarters and executive perquisites. The organization begins to feel like an exclusive country club. Membership and codes of conduct for members preoccupy the leadership, and even though many people are aware that effectiveness has been lost,
nobody breaks ranks to express the bad news. Those last few who might are marginalized and finally excluded. Form rules over function.
Early Bureaucracy [-A—]
The eighth stage of the Adizes organizational lifecycle has been repeatedly renamed over the years. It has been called “Salem City”, because when the loss of effectiveness in the organization can no longer be hidden, and the momentum of past successes runs out, the united front of Aristocratic
denial ruptures, and the hunt for scapegoats begins. Everybody begins to blame everyone else. Usually, the last few productive leaders are the first to be purged. Occasional purges continue, and this activity continues to divert attention from the actual marketplace and the client needs the organization serves. Customers continue to be treated like inconvenient annoyances that distract people from the “really” important work of internal politics.
Late Bureaucracy [-A—]
In the aftermath of the witch hunts, form is all that remains. If a functioning organization based on client needs was not reestablished in the reorganization of the early bureaucracy, all that gets left behind is a network of rules, regulations and practices masquerading as an organization. This
explicit control and order is seen as an antidote to the chaos of Early Bureaucracy. The cohesive culture of the Aristocracy is swept away, leaving a set of rules and strictures in its place. Top managers, middle managers and workers may all come and go without much effect. The organization has its own inertia and cannot be redirected or budged from where it is.
Bureaucracies grow. The effort to eliminate all gray areas and uncertainty leads to an increasingly minute specification of work roles and responsibilities, further and further removed from any real service that could be delivered to an external client. The organization has long since ceased to
produce any kind of value proportionate to its vast and cumbersome size, and it is almost entirely insulated from change.
Only some kind of external subsidy keeps Bureaucracies afloat. If they were dependent on client billing of any kind to generate income, they would immediately have to reduce their size and reinvent themselves as a client-centered, productive and competitive organization. Otherwise, once
their subsidy is removed, they decline towards Death.
Organizational Death is rarely an event. It is usually a drawn-out process of the slow withdrawal of subsidies, reductions in size of the organization and final client abandonment of the system. Finally, no one is committed to the organization any longer; not its management, not its workers, not its clients and not its political supporters. Death is characterized by expressions of learned helplessness, and it is prolonged by an unwillingness to eliminate jobs. Maintaining a dead organization on the artificial life support system of subsidies is extremely expensive and usually
occurs for purely political reasons.