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The plague emerged in the 1300s in Europe and Asia and within five years killed thirty percent of the population. Organisations today are facing a similar challenge on a rapidly evolving landscape where technology is creating a brave new world on a daily basis. National boundaries are disappearing, as we slide rapidly from traditional capitalism and free markets into an unknown cloud based world of potential totalitarianism and islands of tyranny.
If organisations wish to survive they must find a new way to evolve and grow.
Much has been said about the power of organisational culture. The problem is that everybody has a different idea of what culture means. Here is a definition that I have found to be extremely powerful.
"Culture is the unconscious repetition of traditions of the dead."
The annual performance appraisal is a fine example of an unconscious repetition of a tradition of the dead. Edwards Deming, perhaps the finest quality guru of the past century called the annual appraisal the greatest insult and humiliation that any manager can impose on an employee. Global research over decades has shown that the annual appraisal has the following impact.
In short the annual performance appraisal represents the systemic flea that carries the unconscious plague of self destruction. It's a type of battered wife syndrome.
Why on earth then would otherwise intelligent leaders pursue something so obviously stupid and self-destructive?
George Orwell has something interesting to say about this in his 1984.
We know today that every organisation operates on a half-life scale of just ten years for the simple reason that they do not know how to evolve and survive on a dynamic and competitive landscape. And the real killer is simply an hypnotic trance driven by orthodoxy and the traditions of the dead. Orthodoxy then is the plague that eventually kills organisations. It is absorbed into the cultural DNA where it is carried by leaders in a thousand different and unconscious ways.
Identifying symptoms of the plague in your organisation
If you can identify any or all of the above, your organisation is in serious trouble. It may not be around much longer.
Treatment and cure
Fortunately the treatment and cure is simple and quick to execute. You have two pathways.
And if you don't see either of these things happening in the near future, find another organisation to work for, before it is too late!