The path to becoming a higher performing team and culture follows predictable stages. Recognizing and understanding this truth, if fully embraced, can fundamentally change the way you look at your organization. And more important, it will enable you to consciously and deliberately create the conditions for developing a high-performing team and culture.
The pathway to success is simple. Organizational development has predictable and knowable stages. Each stage has it's strengths, weaknesses and limitations. And there are clear milestones that need to be reached to move to the next higher stage of development. With this knowledge, you can map the path forward and establish clear and specific next steps for moving down that path.
Just as people, cultures and natural systems go through developmental stages, so do organizational cultures. Many organizational developmental theories have been proposed over the years and this is an active and interesting field of study. That being said, what we present here is a simple, pragmatic framework for developing high-performing teams and cultures that we’ve found to be very effective, based on over 20 years of experience with organizations of all types and sizes.
We call this developmental pathway the Evolutionary Stages. Some key benefits to looking at at organization through this lens are:
Some Basics About Stage Development
At each stage in an organization's development, there are predictable issues and constraints that arise in response to various forces from within and without. For example, as a business grows, there is inevitably increasing complexity in many forms. More staff means there are more relationships to manage. Diversifying products and services generate more decisions that need to be made about the allocation of resources and responding to changing market forces. Thus, the structures and mindsets that worked at one point in time become constraints as the organization grows. New structures and mindsets need to be evolved to respond to these constraints and support moving to the next higher level of performance. The good news is that the key milestones and next steps for moving from one stage to the next can be clearly identified and then acted on.
Some other characteristics of stage development:
The Stages To Becoming a High-Performing Team
Our Evolutionary Clock is a simple visual representation of the stages to becoming a high-performing team. Each of the four stages described below are arrayed around the clock from lower to higher stages. Using this tool, you can ask the question: “What time is it for my team and organization on the Evolutionary Clock?" This leads naturally to asking: "What are my team's constraints to moving to the next stage on the clock? And what milestones do we need to attain to achieve this?"
Stage I: Individual Contributor
Stage II: Directive Leader
Stage III: Complete-System-of-Roles
Stage IV: High-Performing Team
By understanding the current stage of development of your organization, you are able to isolate characteristic next steps to higher performance. The enormous value of this approach to leaders is that you can make precise, high-return investments in your team and in your organization that enable you perform at a much higher level and to deliver on your mission more effectively.
Do you know where your organization is on the Evolutionary Clock and what steps you need to take to move to the next stage? If not, try out our High-Performing Team App at no cost. This diagnostic tool will assess where your organization currently is, identify key issues you are likely dealing with, and provide an agenda for moving your organization to the next higher stage of development.