The economic downturn has provided an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to engage in intense self-examination and really identify who they are - and who they are not. I use the term Organizational Renaissance™ to describe the process of (1) taking a close look at what organizations are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it, and then (2) either re-affirming the path they are on or choosing a new one. Renaissance may be defined as a renewal of life or interest, a re-birth. Used here, the term Organizational Renaissance™ is meant to describe a process that goes beyond merely restoring a previous (pre-recession) state; instead it defines an ascent to a much higher level of performance. At this point in time, the term aptly describes the choice facing organizations today: will they take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity created by the economic downturn to examine their purpose and act on their findings, or will they allow it to pass them by? Will they choose to thrive in the coming years, or will they settle for mere survival?

Although executives and business owners may choose to undergo the Organizational Renaissance™ process at any time, current economic conditions have provided a unique opportunity for change. Here’s why: most individuals understand that because the way we do business has been altered drastically, workplaces necessarily have undergone substantial changes. As a result, while they don’t like many or most of the adjustments that have resulted from the economic uncertainties, employees are less resistant to workplace changes than they have been in the past. For this reason, now is the time to examine closely the organization’s mission and vision as well as its operating processes and procedures.

However, the current window of opportunity is closing quickly: by the time the economy turns around, it will have slammed shut. That is, as conditions begin to improve, many employees are likely to conclude – albeit incorrectly – that “business as usual” has been restored, and that previous conditions and practices will return as well. Thus the flexibility and understanding they have exhibited will disappear, past positions again will become entrenched, and employees will be very resistant to change.

What this scenario means is that right now you truly have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purposefully examine who you are as an organization and how you want to operate, and to implement changes that will determine the future of the organization – all with a relatively low degree of resistance.

If you are serious about seizing the current short-term opportunity to focus on elements that will enable you to engage in your own Organizational Renaissance™, you may want to consider six critical success factors that will help your organization thrive. While these factors do require changes in behavior, they can be implemented with little or no financial cost.

            1. Fully successful employees
            2. Courageous leaders
            3. Building community
            4. Empowering choices
            5. An appreciative culture
            6. Tools and practices that engage and retain employees

We will be addressing each of these elements in more detail in future articles. Until then, what are you doing to ensure your organization thrives in the future?

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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