Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 30

greatness is largely a matter of choice, Jim Collins quoteThe search for leader-saviors and silver-bullet solutions has not worked. Decline has continued, maybe even accelerated. At this late point, Collins says two things can happen (pp. 105).

(1)  The leadership believes that giving up, closing shop, shutting down is better than fighting on.

(2)  The leadership does not give up, but like a seriously advanced disease, the organization just dies... or shrinks to the point of irrelevance.

Collins has a profound insight that deserves a complete quote (pp. 111).

Not all companies deserve to last. Perhaps society is better off getting rid of organizations that have fallen from great to terrible rather than continuing to let them inflict massive inadequacies on their shareholders. Institutional self-perpetuation holds no legitimate place in a world of scare resources; institutional mediocrity should be terminated, or transformed into excellence.

I completely agree with this perspective. Organizations do not DESERVE to survive perpetually. They have to demonstrate they are viable. They have to actually produce. They must make genuine contributions. 

institutional self perpetuation holds no legitimate place, mediocrity should be terminated, Jim Collins quoteGreatness is always a matter of choice... daily choice, sustained choice, painful choice, disciplined choice. Greatness must be earned and it must be maintained. Past success does not mean present mediocrity gets a pass. This is true of civilizations, nations, companies, churches, mission organizations... 

There is something Darwinian at work. Organizational survival does go to the "fittest." The fittest are those who are willing to hire the disiciplined people who will do the hard work of disciplined thinking and the harder work of sustained disciplined action.

In the Christian world, we see this all the time. Churches and para-church groups that were once great with powerful ministries touching large crowds, become irrelevant. In the area where I live, several churches that once thrived and were well known, are now all but defunct. When leadership fails to lead accordingly to the basic principles of fruitfulness (success, greatness, whatever you want to call it) - decline happens.

In light of this, I do think there are times when organizations should just close the doors, hang up the sign (Out Of Business) and make room for other more innovative, hungry, disciplined leaders and their organizations.

So yes - give up instead of perpetrating mediocrity or worse. Stop wasting time and hope. Unless...
and the unless will be the final leadership lesson from How the Mighty Fall.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International