I’m guessing that you’ve been following my series on business closure and the ethics thereof. This post does not seek to provide definitive advice. What lies herein is based more on intuitions, and a reflection point for leaders to consider where they are at. If you are wondering whether your organisation is terminally ill, or whether you should close, seeking support and advice from experts would probably be wise.
Some symptoms of struggling non-profits and businesses in decline can include:
- Prolonged inability to attract the external resources (funds) to maintain what is necessary to operate – I am not talking about additional resources for growth, just resources to operate at a level that means you can provide a professional, ethical and effective service.
- Massive changes to the market whereby the organisation is competing for resources, and unable to achieve that ahead of others.
- Lack of, or inability to attract the expertise, knowledge, commitment and drive to turn around the organisation – this needs to be at Board and staff levels.
- Pain and exploitation of staff through poor resourcing – rather than scale down operations, organisations can be guilty of maintaining services by exceeding the reasonable expectations of staff. Read more
Over the past week I have been exploring the ethics of business closure and the idea of euthanisation. It is time for me to explain myself – what do I mean by business euthanization? and why use this metaphor for talking about business life-cycles?
My sense is that how we treat business closure is actually symptomatic of a much wider cultural and spiritual issue around how we perceive and deal with death and dying (stay with me!). For many people, death comes as a surprise and can be full of heartache – not just for the person dying, but also for the family. Research around organ donation for example shows that many families do not discuss the wishes of their loved one prior to their death. This lack of discussion and planning leads to sometimes difficult decisions needing to be made, and conflict amongst those left behind.
What can reincarnation teach us?
All cycles come to a close, and to the beginning of a new cycle. Yet we somehow treat business, strategy and life as if it is in a state of perpetual growth. This is simply not how life works. Of course all cycles will end. In life we have two main types of cycles – the major cycle of incarnation, and sub-cycles which could be seen as life stages. Each sub-cycle can include periods of creation (or innovation), growth, maturity, sustainability and eventually decline. Periods of decline can lead to business turnaround, which usually occur after some kind of midlife crisis or turning point.