The Lifecycle of Your Enterprise
We are all familiar with the concept of a "lifecycle". We are aware that our clothing has a lifecycle ("fast fashion" has reduced its length), that our recent technology purchase has a lifecycle (which is getting shorter every time we replace our current device with another one) and, most importantly, that people - and every other living thing - have a lifecycle to be reckoned with.
We are accustomed to this reality in almost every aspect of our world, yet we often miss this when it comes to the lifecycle of our business or organization. We somehow imagine that our enterprise is not bound by a lifecycle; that we can ignore the very predictable arc it will travel from its inception until it is no longer around. The truth is, every organization has a lifecycle. Your business (or non-profit or ministry or club) is at some point on a continuum between its beginning and its end. Not understanding this truth will usually produce very painful consequences for everyone involved.
There is some good news on the topic of lifecycles and that is organizations do not have the same constraints as people. Humans can not prevent the inevitable stages and changes that occur while moving through their lifecycle. Every human will complete their lifecycle - from infancy to death - within a span of approximately 100 years (or less). This is not the case with an organization, which can remain fully functional and vital for an indefinite period of time. I can think of organizations that are chronologically only a few years old with "one foot in the grave". I know others that have been around a very long time but are still a vital and youthful force to be reckoned with. For our organization, the important thing is to learn to identify and understand each stage of the lifecycle and how to manage the positive and negative realities that stage entails.
Knowledge is Power
Becoming aware of each phase in an organization's lifecycle and what the "normal" and "abnormal" problems are for each phase can help you avoid a great deal of trouble. This knowledge can also help you retain your sanity when your organization is going through its "terrible twos" and you realize what will be required to get you through to the other side... Knowledge about your organization's lifecycle is critical to reaching and maintaining a powerful stage known as "Prime", but more on that in the next installment.