Managing Decline--When Organizations Fail To Evolve

A buddy of mine sent this article from the Wall Street Journal to me and I found it very interesting.

You see once upon a time I was a business management major, studying all the principles of organizations and business and what did and didn't make them tick.  Just to tell you how long ago that was IBM was "Big Blue" and Microsoft and Apple were just infants in the cradle of business culture.

I was always fascinated on why some businesses thrived and grew and why others seemed to falter and fail rather quickly. What I learned was that there was a host of factors, both internal and external, that led to the demise or success of a business.  Sometimes it was just poor management (in an environment where others can flourish this one didn't) or vice versa.

In Barnes and Nobles case, it seems that they were conflicted as to the future of books and the internet.  Instead of embracing a strategy that acknowledges change, they clung to the model of "print books are forever" (and unfortunately they are not).  They waged their future on this model without even an exit door to jettison themselves into the future realm of books.  And for that they are paying for it.  The article even says they "chose to manage decline"

So, I have to ask all leaders out there, is your organization choosing to manage decline rather that position your company for the possibilities of models and paradigms changing?  I know it's hard for organizations to change, but it takes leadership with vision and motivation to keep the organization on the life cycle and somewhere about the time that the organization is evidencing maturity, something needs to take place to return the organization to those early days of "start up" when risks are "risky" and the unknowns are "truly dangerous" to the organization.

It is at this point that the organization begins to "EVOLVE again and finds new life and new meaning.  Otherwise you can look at the model above and see where this organization is headed..DECLINE!

A friend of mine regularly quotes "The older an organization becomes the greater the tendency to turn inward to its on wants and needs rather than the outsider".   This is too true when you choose to manage decline.

NEW YORK TIMES:Best selling author to no longer publish books traditionally