I found the readings this week highly interesting. Christensen (2010) makes some very interesting points around work life balance, and in particular his argument about the use of the marginal cost approach in everyday life has me thinking, though I’m not sure I agree with his logic. But I think I’ll save my thoughts and some analysis of his work for my summative journal. My journal for this week will focus on Greiner’s (1974) article. More specifically, my ‘problem’ for this week is do we as company fit onto Greiner’s (1974) phases of organisational growth, and does this shed any light on why we’ve performed the way we have.
Greiner (1972) asserts that the first phase of organisational growth is the ‘creativity phase’. It is characterized by frequent and informal communication among employees, long hours of work, and a reactionary style of management where control of activities comes from immediate market feedback (Greiner, 1972). This seems a very apt description of our practice rollovers; we did not have many procedures for doing things, we were spending long hours rolling back and forward, we were all generalists, and we got immediate feedback by rolling over so we could adjust our decisions on the fly. But did we have a crisis of leadership (Greiner, 1972)? Sort-of, I think we went through some sort of revolution that was similar to a crisis of leadership. One distinction Greiner (1972) draws is: “As the company grows, larger production runs require knowledge about the efficiencies of manufacturing”. If we extend this to other areas as well, we come to something similar to what we experienced. As our company got bigger and was challenged by more effective competition, we had to develop a more structured approach to decisions and we each had to specialize more so we didn’t miss things. Where I think Greiner’s (1972) stages break down is that the situation we are in now is more akin to the ‘collaboration’ phase; so we seem to have skipped several phases, or moved through them very quickly. The ‘collaboration’ stage is characterized by a focus on fast problem solving in a team, a matrix type structure, people are combined across functions for group activity, and experiments in new practices are encouraged throughout the organisation. This sounds very much like how our team works, we have reasonable good processes, and we specialize to an extent, but usually we are all focused on solving problems as a team.
So have we moved through the different stages enormously fast, or is Greiner’s model perhaps not work in such a linear fashion, or perhaps it is an over simplification. My ‘tentative hypothesis’ is that Greiner’s model applies better to larger organisations, and that perhaps the fact that we are smaller and don’t have so many logistical challenges means that we didn’t go through the process he described, but that we still ended up in a similar place. But I do think that it explains our earlier troubles after the practice rollover, and perhaps on further reflection I could tease out the other phases from the semester; perhaps that is my action to take.
Christensen, C. M. (2010). How Will You Measure Your Life? Harvard Business Review, 88(7/8), 46-51.
Greiner, L. E. (1972). Evolution and revolution as organizations grow. Harvard Business Review, 50(4), 37-46.