Organizations Want to Live

Any organization, once it is created, takes on a life of its own.  It wants to live.  Just as Kevin Kelly describes ‘technology’ as a seventh kingdom of life, in many ways the individual organizations encountered every day also behave like an organism or population.

It can be tough to kill an organization, even when it is clear it won’t last.

We’ve had competitors where (i) the economics don’t make sense, (ii) there aren’t enough customers for their product, and (iii) even management recognizes that their outlook is dramatically different than what was originally believed.  But the environment around them – investors, employees and potential customers, manages to keep the entity around and kicking.

Twice I’ve helped in the creation, and eventual dismantling, of nonprofits.  Both were worthy causes which had early successes – only to find that the giving environment for what they did was less robust than hoped.  Too small to support full time staff, it made sense to shut them down rather than let them die.  One has been closed for several years – and still there are glimmers from time to time that maybe it could survive – it wants to live.

Once created, an organization wants to exist.  The individuals who created it, who maintain it and who are impacted by it, prefer inertia to the unknown -and in doing so they keep it alive, even if that is not the best option.

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