“Once upon a time, this organization was the most famed in our country.” “Our institution during the first few decades of its inception produced the most brilliant minds in the world.” “He could not keep up with his days of fame and looks like fallen from grace.”
These commonly heard statements bring us images of institutions and organizations that have failed to deliver outputs and outcomes of public expectations. There were glorious years that went ahead of them. Why have they failed ? Why have they not kept up the prestige of their glorious years? Why have they not been able to deliver their purpose and public expectation after a time of growth and success? Probably a single point answer won’t solve these questions, though many of us do have our own opinion or points of reflection on this matter.
Is it a failure of leadership, poor management, or inadequate resources? If those factors play a part, do they merely reflect structural flaws in systems of regulation and accountability? Or are there external factor at play of high expectation, and unfavorable operation environment.
Various factors play crucial role in the failure or erosion of institutions, some of them could sound very simple but have a very powerful ripple effect.
Vision- seeing ahead of times
Most organizations are founded by individuals with a great vision. But many of them lack a long term consistent vision. As decades pass by the vision needs to be clarified and re-emphasized based on current realities. Times and situations of the 70s are not the same as of today. The vision, mission and the purpose of the organizations have to be recoded without changing the core values of what it stands for.
The vision of the organization has to be retold and reminded to every individual working for the institution. Employees should not be connected with mere individuals heading the organization, but they should be connected with the vision of the vision of organization. The vision has to be retold and reminded every other week so that every person in the organization will be on the same page and working for the same goal irrespective of what level or position they are at. It is the vision that connects and binds people. People do not like working for people, they like working for a vision, because a vision is larger than a individual.
Most of the times the vision becomes mere statement printed on the front page books. Vision has to be passed on not the organization. In many Christian organization which are passed on to the children by their parents, they fail to perform. The reason is that the vision has not been imparted into them. They have got the organization into their hands, but not what the organization stand for.
Then begins the tussle to run the system that keeps the organization moving and the vital values of what it stand for begins to degenerate. This causes people who are connected to the values and the vision to feel left out and loose interest and later fallout. Big Institutions do not merely run by professional managers but by people who stand with and for the vision and its values, though being professional in approach is important
Lack of personal and organizational accountability, can effect any individual or organization in a long term, this involves transparency, fairness, social justice and corruption.
In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences. Most of the times in organizations, those on the top consider themselves to be always right. “ My judgment is always right, my words are engraved on the rock” said the boss. Their wrong decisions, lack of accountability to either the organization or towards individuals causes trust deficit. Creative people and those who know stop bringing wisdom and new ideas as they fear being discouraged and not listened to.
Not Investing in future Leaders
Not developing a next line of leadership can be a throw back. If you want your organization to grown beyond you, it is essential to develop potential leaders. Develop leaders with capacity, competence and capability not appeasers or your children. In many countries appointments are based on appeasement and those close to the rulers than those people who can drive the organization forward. This action comes merely from the fear of a coup and a sense of false security.
Its sad and disappointing to see organization dying along with the founder, mostly because the short sight of the founder did not develop Godly and capable leaders who had the vision and passion like himself.
When we see this on a Biblical note, Moses left behind him a legacy of leadership. The success of Moses was that he developed potential and Godly leaders. Moses understood that leadership was temporal and succession was necessary. He invested in leaders who could take over the reigns from him. A leader who is not developing leaders is not serving the organization, he is either short sighted or selfish. After Moses death, the Lord spoke to Joshua for Joshua was equipped and trained and mentored by Moses himself. (Joshua was not Moses biological son). Moses does not even mention much about his two sons Gershom and Eliezer in the Pentateuch. God spoke to Joshua to lead the people forward and cross over the Jordan to the land he was giving them. Israel kept moving forward even after the man Moses had died.
In a contrast, after the death of Joshua ( (Judges 2:8f) Israel as a nation seem to disintegrate both spiritually and politically. The reason I believe is that Joshua did not intentionally peruse on leadership development and mentoring individuals to take on. This created a leadership vacuum. While Moses served God with with a nations prospective, thought of the Nation as a part of himself and foresaw Israel as a nation moving forward even after his death, Joshua (Judges 24:15) makes serving God as a family affair. The end results in both cases are very evident.
Are we creating potential leadership to take on the reigns of our ministry and organization or are we too short sighted and selfish to do so.
Secular world view takes over Biblical world view
To keep it short, I would take the example of a seed that germinates to become a tree.
A seed is planted in the ground with a purpose that the seed would break germinate, and in a long run transform into a fruit bearing tree.
Now the vision of the organization is like a seed, which is planted in the soil. A tree and the fruit it bears is the purpose attached to the vision. The planter sees nothing more than the vision and the purpose. As the plant keeps growing to become a tree, in the process it is well nurtured and kept safe from external factors that could become a hindrance for the vision to bear its purpose. For any organization the focus and purpose should not be only growth but the fruit it bears.
As the tree grows there is a unseen factor which has a large role to play – the roots. The roots begin to go deeper and deeper into the ground. The reason for the roots to do so is to provide strength, stability and sustenance (3s) to the tree. At this stage 3s begins to get more focus than the fruits. Growth becomes more important than the fruit it bears. The birds nest on the branches becomes more important than the fruit. (the secondary becomes the primary) As the roots penetrate deeper, it goes into a dark world messing and mixing up with unholy alliances of the dark world, roots and rocks and picking whatever it can from wherever it can. Remember in the initial days the plant depended on the planter, pouring water and necessary manure. Now all for the sake of strength, stability and sustenance it has created the dark alliances.
Is our organization tying dark alliances to feel secure and stable, are we feeling insecure in the provision and protection of God? Have we grown beyond what God can provide and take care of? Where does my help come from ?
Jeremiah 17:8, They will be tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the stream, it does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Erosion of values
I see erosion of values also as a reason for failing organizations. As I mentioned above, the secondary becomes the primary, the values and vision gives place to sustenance and branding. The initial values of what we stood for doesnt seem to have priority any more. Values like love, mercy, kindness, humanity, fairness, justice and forgiveness has been exchanged with ideals of money, position, material, performance, fierce competition and to culminate in the survival of the fittest.
In my childhood, I have seen Typewriting centers and institutes in every nook and corner of the city. Everyone wanted to know how to type on a typewriting machine. All offices had these machines. The best talent was the one who could type the maximum number of alphabet in a minute. As years passed computers came in to play pushing aside the type writer. From the DOS operated machine to the windows platform there has been a constant change. The person with the best type writing speed has no place in todays times, unless he has upgraded his capability. This is the same with organizations too. Unless we are relevant to the society in what we offer, we stand no chance in being effective, fruitful and meaningful. We cannot keep doing the same good old things, the best of the past has no place today unless we have added value to stay relevant.
Traditional barriers, not being updated with present realities, ego and closed minds can keep us far from being relevant. Unless we are relevant to the times, we are not relevant to the society and its people, we offer no solution to the words needs.
The list of reason for organization failure and irrelevance could be unending. Mismanagement, selfish individual ambitions, financial discrepancy, organizational integrity, corruption, deviating from the goal could be the other reason as well.