Videos are available for Members

Life Cucle of Human Systems


“The Life Cycle of Human Systems” explores the inevitable evolution of organizations, emphasizing the necessity for change in every living system, regardless of size or industry. From the embryonic stage, characterized by excitement, discovery, and a focus on learning, to the growth phase, marked by scaling and increased complexity, organizations progress through maturity and eventually face decline. The video highlights key shifts in attitude towards mistakes and change as organizations evolve. It underscores the crucial role of adaptation, optimization, and occasional reinvention for sustained survival. Akin to a board game, each organizational phase represents a pivotal moment demanding problem-solving skills before progressing to the next stage.

Video Transcript

The life cycle of human systems. This is why every organization has to change. It doesn’t matter how big the organization is, it doesn’t matter how complex or what industry or where it’s located or any of that. If it’s a living system. All living systems go through a life cycle from the tiniest cell to probably the whole universe has a start, a beginning, and an end. Here’s what happens to organizations in that regard. There is a life cycle that goes through the embryonic stage, the growth stage, the mature stage, and then the decline stage. You’ll see what happens, what’s required in each of these. Think of it as a kind of a board game where as soon as you solve the problems in this phase, you get to go to the next one, but you can’t go to the next one until you solve these. These circles here represent a point of passage. It’s a moment in time when everything changes. In fact, when I’ve been called in as a consultant, it’s usually at one of these points. When the game has changed, everything may look the same, but inside what people are doing and why they’re doing it and what they’re focusing on changes completely. All right. There are different agendas or things that must be accomplished in each of these phases here. Let’s look at the first phase, the embryonic phase. If you walked into a startup company, what would you expect? The attitude, the culture, the emotional tone? What would people be doing? Yeah, there’d be everybody running around with their hair on fire.

There’d be excitement and energy and complexity everywhere. What would be the attitude toward change? Well, it’s like every day is different. So change is the water that we swim in. What would be the attitude toward mistakes in the embryonic stage? We’re not even sure what a mistake looks like. What we think is a mistake might turn out to be a really cool idea. You know, this this is what happens. The the process here is the the goal or agenda or process has to be focused on finding out, discovery, learning, finding the right people, finding the right products, finding the right combination, discovering who we are, where our customers at the beginning. Do you have more questions or more answers? In the embryonic phase, everything that’s important is unknown. You don’t know for sure who you are, who your customers are, how to reach them, and so forth. So the the agenda in the embryonic stage is learning discovery, right? If you in fact begin to discover the right answers to the right questions, you then get to pass into the next phase, which is the growth phase. The agenda here, the focus here is more. It’s more scaling more and more and more. More what? More everything. More meetings, more conflicts, more emails, more. More everything. You have more complexity. You have more focus. The organization gets more organized.

You get more narrow job descriptions. You get a more sophisticated system in every way. And at some point, though, things begin to level off market forces. You run out of gas, whatever, run out of money, and you enter into the mature phase. And at this point, things flatten out. Now the game has changed big time here. What is the attitude toward mistakes in a mature organization? Yeah, now we know what a mistake looks like. So you can be really, really careful not to make them. What’s the attitude toward change in a mature organization. Yeah right. What change. What are you talking about. Change is the enemy in a mature organization. What’s the attitude. Well, in a in a in a mature organization, do you have more questions or more answers? In a mature organization, you have answers for everything. And they’re all written down in a manual somewhere. Every department has a manual. If there’s any question, you just go to the manual. You know what it is you’re supposed to do. So now people know what they’re supposed to do. And the the agenda here is optimization. It’s keeping it going. It’s sustaining what we have. It’s maintaining the status quo and incremental improvement got to happen. Got to be a little bit better every day. So the irony of it is since change is the enemy here, and yet change is required to keep this thing going. If you don’t change, you end up going over into the survival mode once you get over that curve.

Now the name of the game is turnaround. How do we or survival? How do we turn this thing around? What can we do to to to survive a little bit longer? This is the focus here is just absolute. It’s almost like emergency room like trauma, trauma surgery. This is when people do reorganizations. They look for mergers, all kinds of very radical moves to try to keep because the system as a living system. Fights for survival in every stage. Its survival is dependent on a slightly different focus. Once you get into the declining phase, boy, you’re really fighting for survival there. It’s like, can we, can we? Are we just going to dump this thing and sell it or what? Now there’s another video coming, which you’ll see called the Breakthrough Curve, because at some point, as you’ll see in that video, in an organization’s life, it’s important to go back to zero and ask those unanswerable questions again. Who are we? What are we doing? In a sense, start over again and create an entirely different way of understanding your business, your mission, or your organization. But that’s another video. But remember, all living systems have to change, and this is the general way that they change. It might take months, it might take years, it might take decades. But you definitely will go through these phases.

Welcome to the Beta Version of Wiser@Work!

Experience our new learning platform and unleash your potential at work!
Join now and become a member for free by using the code FREE100. The code will give you access to the platform completely for free. 

To sign up, follow the subscription instructions and use the code during check-out. 

You will be able to unsubscribe anytime. 

We use cookies to improve your experience, read about them in our Privacy Policy.