From the April 7, 2006
An interesting thing about organizations
is their ability to outlive the people who give them life.
They are not limited to the life-death cycle that is characteristic of all
living organisms. The Christian Church, for
example, is nearly 2,000 years old and still going strong.
It is much older than the pastors, missionaries, or church members that have
given it life over the past two millennia.
Long-lived organizations have the ability
to continuously attract and maintain relationships with members, supporters, and
customers. As time passes and former
associates fall away, new supporters must be brought into organizations for them to remain
intact. The mission, goals, ideals, and
offerings of an organization must be transmitted to its future generations of
organizational members and those who interact with the organizationsupporters and
At the core of all organizations is a
dependence on exchange with parties outside the organization. Without regular exchanges of organizational goods
and services for external money and other capital, organizations will eventually go out of
business. When organizational offerings are
no longer needed or wanted by those outside the firm, organizational survival will be in
jeopardy. Long firm life requires the
effective assessment and alignment of market wants and needs with organizational
offeringswhich is a process of continuous and constant change and adaptation. Healthy organizations are those that
constantly engage in exploration, discovery, reflection, learning, forecasting, and
The same processes at work on
organizations that want to remain relevant and viable in the marketplace also apply to the
people who give life to organizations. As
organizations respond to new demands in the marketplace, they need workers who can help
them meet those demands. Dramatic changes in
technology, communication, information management, and transportation systems have caused
businesses to change in many dramatic ways as well. Organizations
need workers who possess the skills and competencies needed to lead, develop, and grow
organizations in frenetic and rapidly changing environments. Workers must find ways to keep themselves valuable
and able to contribute to organizational success by continually assessing and aligning
their abilities and contributions with the needs of their organizations. They must constantly engage in exploration,
discovery, reflection, learning, forecasting, and repositioning with respect to their
career opportunities, skills, competencies, and abilitiesotherwise they might find
themselves out of business.
Organizations must remain relevant and offer something of demand in
the marketplace to stay in business. Likewise,
people need to be and remain relevant in the marketplace.
They must enter the workforce with valuable skills and abilities and they
must be encouraged and supported by their organizations to gain additional training,
education, and experience. Organizations are
peoplethe interests and abilities of the two are inseparable. Being relevant in the marketplace is necessary for
organizations and workers. Healthy, vibrant,
and relevant organizations are made up of healthy, vibrant, and relevant
individualsthey both must constantly seek ways to grow, learn, and position
themselves for long-term success.