Dying institutions make predictable noises. Cracks develop in their fortressed mentality as they stonewall inevitable changes. They are going down with their sinking ship believing "something that's been around this long is here to stay". On the way down, they throw money at problems that makes things worse. Their sense to adapt, evolve and get ahead of the curve -- eludes them. They try harder with a vengeance in very patterned ways. They cannot try smarter in ways that come about from reflective practicing.
If you're wondering if some institution in your world is crumbling apart, as Harold Jarche did today in Are the systems starting to crack?, here's a viewers guide to the early warning signs:
Changes, innovators and market shifts are perceived as threats that spawn a siege mentality within the fading institution.
Top management puts out a call for unity while under siege and labels any dissension in the ranks as traitorous sabotage of the leaky lifeboat.
Messengers close to the internal problems, missed opportunities, and signs of needed changes -- are shot down for disrupting unity and exhibiting a lack of commitment to staying on course.
Top management rewards a clueless entourage, brimming with positive attitudes, that keep executives in the dark, driving blind and headed for disaster.
Those who attempt to save the institution from the leadership get into trouble for seeing problems with what is being sold, hearing complaints from valued customers and sensing defections among tenured talent and loyal suppliers.
When told to "stop thinking they way they are thinking", those dedicated to keeping the ship afloat, are left with four choices:
- sellout to the corporate propaganda and speak in optimistic cliches
- become a "space cadet" and actively deny any evidence of changes, trouble ahead or misguided leadership
- morph into a mother hen and protect a small brood from the prevalent conformity and "corporate speak"
- make a noisy departure where everyone, including the night cleaning crew, knows you're leaving the employer under protest
Those who submit to "stop thinking the way they were thinking" no longer know what they are thinking, feeling or seeing. It often takes years to get their head screwed back on straight. The brainwashing takes an enduring toll on one's sense of justice, opportunities, direction and balance.