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 The LIFE CYCLE of ORGanizations

Focus on Capacity for Learning and Innovation

I.e. WHERE DOES         


                           HAPPEN ?

Among new start-up orgs (case #1) we find simple structure and high levels of entrepreneurial spirit - willingness to try radical new ideas.

Later, if successful they get much larger and more bureaucratic. 

BUT bureaucracy restricts innovation. (case #2)  A core challenge !


Q: How can mature ORGs retain or regain that entrepreneurial spirit while they still need to manage the large scale of their operations?

It maybe possible thru the disciplines of the Learning Organization and the approach of Adhocracy. (case #3)

Some START-UPS reach MATURITY - but can they change when necessary to meet new threats (e.g. competitors) & opportunities, i.e. to survive?






case #2


Stuck in original business focus

E.g. cruise ship & parent company, many firms


case #3



Capable of new strategic focus


Radical innovation possible.

Organizational Learning cultivated

"Silicon Valley" (Calif.) Model

            case #4

Some innovative businesses hit huge success, very FAST. Serial innovators.


e.g. Google, Tesla, FB, Apple, 3M, W.L.Gore.


at large scale

NOTE: The SHIP can represent only ONE TYPE of ORG -

the Mature Bureaucratic Org.

   But NOT Start-Ups 

 and NOT Adhocracy types.


SOME START-UP firms/ORGs. become MATURE  (large and successful) with BUREAUCRATIC form but losing flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit. (case #2).
They may enjoy great success -- so long as their industry is not disrupted.

OTHER ORGs become MATURE while keeping some entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to shift direction (case #3).
They use ADHOCRACY management.
This is an "Un-bureaucracy" - Less formal hierarchy, less centraliz-ation, networks among
project teams with self-management. Participation in planning, sharing information, trust in discretion of team leaders within the shared strategy. Micromanagement and constant controls are out..(See Mintzberg - Ref.)

In ADHOCRACY management employees have much more discretion within their guidelines. They are accountable for results; but free to improve on "the old way". For feedback and support they look to peers before supervisors. Managers (a lot less layers of them) "direct" employees less and support them more. The disciplines of ORG. LEARNING are much needed here. Strategy is emergent - not just top-down. Shared vision and values provide integration. Managers are busy "patching" opportunities that employees discover and managing selected conflict situations. ( Brown & Eisenhardt )
Adhocracy (structure) and Org. Learning (process) go well together.

Click for table that contrasts BUREAUCRACY & ADHOCRACY on another

The "Silicon Valley Model" (case #4) is based on studies of a dozen super-successful, highly entrepreneurial firms (e.g. Google) which are serial radical innovators, many with roots in Silicon Valley, California. They demonstrate DYNAMIC CAPABILITY (Learning, Agility and Innovation) at the highest level. (see Steiber & Alange - Ref.)

The Silicon Valley Model by Anniker Steiber & Sverker Alange. pub. Springer, 2016.
Mintzberg on Management by Henri Mintzberg, NY: Free Press, 1989. Chapter, 11.
Competing on the Edge by Shona L. Brown & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt,  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press,1998.

The Silicon Valley model depends on Adhocracy but we cannot tell if these organizations pay attention to cultivating the disciplines of the Learning Org.

Speed is heavily emphasized in the SV model.

Can dialog and reflection (high quality conversation) be nurtured and practiced in such high speed cultures?

          If so, how?  If not, how are they replaced? 

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