One of the most popular trends in a down economy is to blame everything on the economy. If business is bad, the future looks bleak, we can sit around and comfort ourselves knowing that everyone else is sucking wind because, of course, it’s the economy.
But the problem with that is, some of the greatest innovative companies have arisen over history during the bleakest of economic times. Even today new start-ups are gaining traction, and innovation and service are going to new levels in some sectors of course, not all.
As you end your work week and you’ve had conversations about how bad the economy is and when things might turn around, I have something for you to think about. And I call it the Iron Law of Organizational Demise.
Here it is. There are two groups of people in every organization, at least initially. The first group are those who thought the whole thing up. They are the ones who had the dream, who wrote the vision on the back of a napkin, who dared to launch when everyone thought they were crazy. And against all odds, their church, their organization, their business caught on. And all of a sudden people and money start flocking in like there is no tomorrow.
And what do these visionaries do? These people who have worked their butts off to get this thing off the ground. They want to keep the growth going, so what do they do? They seek out and hire organization experts, whatever they are. And before long, the organization is populated by two groups of people: those who are passionate about what the organization exists to do, provide, create, or innovate; and the second group of people who are passionate about the organization itself.
Over time – and listen to me, I know what I’m talking about – over time, the group late to the organization wins. Why? Because in part, those who started the organization stopped trusting the genius of the mission, the vision, and the passion that created the thing in the first place.
This is what I’ve learned the second time around, starting a brand new church: a church with about a thousand-plus people in it, with a very small staff. Years ago I started another church that had thousands of people in it and a big staff. And here’s what I’ve learned. Those who come late, those who populate the organization, those who write their procedures, and policies, those who administer the whole thing will eventually win. They will throw the visionaries out and seize the assets, and slowly, but surely, over time, that group, that thing, that company that existed on the cutting edge becomes the same old, same old as everything else, and everyone else.
If you are starting a company, a church, anything, trust the genius of your initial passion. Be careful who you allow in the inner circle. Are they vision/passion people who are willing to do whatever it takes? Or are they organizational people who only would sit in a beautiful leather chair, in a nicely-appointed office?