9 Signs of a declining business

There isn’t too much in this list that is controversial but it will serve some very well to take as objective a view as they possibly can of the symptoms. There can be a multitude of reasons how an organisation can arrive in such a “bad place” and recovery will be extremely difficult without a dramatic and permanent change of culture. Easier said than done!

Even with, experienced, external intervention change is extremely difficult. But, until such time as change is effected, the decline will continue and accelerate. The increasing complexity that such a dysfunctional organisation creates generates increased uncertainty that is communicated via its inter-connections with stakeholders, into its ecosystem and connected networks.

Too many businesses look externally for risks when experience tells us that the source tends to be much closer to home!
9 Signs of a Declining Business

1. Fuzzy Vision: people don’t know where the organization is going and what it is trying to achieve in the future.

2. Lack of Leadership Skills: fear of change; leaders lack entrepreneurial spirit; leadership style on the part of management is either too directive or too hands-off; managers do not lead, they just administrate and micromanage; weak leadership development program.

3. Discouraging Culture: no shared values; lack of trust: blame culture; focus on problems, not opportunities; people don’t have fun at work; diversity not celebrated; failures not tolerated; people lose confidence in their leaders and systems.

4. High Bureaucracy: bureaucratic organizational structures with too many layers; high boundaries between management layers; slow decision making;: too close monitoring of things and subordinates; too many tools and documents discouraging creative thinking; bureaucracy is tolerated.

5. Lack of Initiative: poor motivation encouragement; people do not feel their contributions make a difference; management fails to engage the organization effectively; people work defensively and not creatively, they do their job, and nothing more.

6. Poor Vertical Communication: people have no clue of the big picture and do not feel that their contributions are important; too much uncertainty; people don’t know what top-managers are thinking and planning.

7. Poor Cross-functional Collaboration: functional mindset; lack of cross-functional goals and cross-functional collaboration spirit; functional, no enterprise-wide business process management; no cross-functional management committees; lack of or powerless cross-functional teams.

8. Poor Teamwork: no organizational commitment to team culture; lack of shared and worthwhile goals; weak team leaders; team members who don’t want to play as part of a team are tolerated; teams are too large; lack of shared rewards.

9. Poor Idea and Knowledge Management: cross-pollination of ideas is not facilitated; no creativity, idea and knowledge management strategies and systems; “know-it-all” attitude; “not invented here” syndrome.

Harvey Schiller

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