Miller, Danny - The Icarus Paradox

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Danny Miller (1992[1]) describes the dynamics of corporate growth and decline in his book The Icarus Paradox, which shows how the same behavior (or “trajectory”) that makes some firms successful also leads to their decline. He defines a four part concern structure typology of these behavior patterns, given below in PAEI order.

P – The Venturing Trajectory: This trajectory converts “growth-driven, entrepreneurial BUILDERS companies managed by imaginative leaders and creative planning and financial staffs into impulsive, greedy IMPERIALISTS who severely overtax their resources by expanding helter-skelter into businesses they know nothing about.”

A – The Focusing Trajectory: This trajectory “takes punctilious, quality-driven CRAFTSMEN organizations with their masterful engineers and airtight operations, and turns them into rigidly controlled, detail-obsessed TINKERERS firms whose insular, technocratic monocultures alienate customers with perfect, but irrelevant, offerings.”

E – The Inventing Trajectory: This trajectory “takes PIONEERS with unexcelled R&D departments, flexible think tank operations, and state-of-the-art products, and transforms them into utopian ESCAPISTS run by a cult of chaos-loving scientists who squander resources in the pursuit of hopelessly grand and futuristic inventions.”

I – The Decoupling Trajectory: This trajectory “transforms SALESMEN organizations with unparalleled marketing skills, prominent brand names, and broad markets into aimless, bureaucratic DRIFTERS whose sales fetish obscures design issues, and who produce a stale and disjointed line of "me too" offerings.”

1. Miller, D. (1992). “The Icarus paradox: how exceptional companies bring about their own downfall.” Business Horizons, Jan-Feb, 1992.
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