Saturday, August 6, 2011

Organizational Resilience (Semester Summary)

If you saw my last post you likely recognize life is not fair and as individuals we must embrace life's challenges and teach ourselves to be strong, to persevere, and ultimately come out ahead in psychologically tricky situations. How strong must we be? For many cancer patients and their doctors this means they must not only fight for their lives but they must also fight for their rights against institutional resistance, sabotage, and dominance.

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski's cure rate of cancer is innovative and exceeds the national rate many times over. It has cured the toughest cancer there is--children's brain cancer. Through 1 hour and 48 minutes of riveting facts, this compelling saga documentary lodged itself into my psyche and it has made me think about cancer in organizations.

(At present this movie is temporarily available for free online, but for further information please visit the official website.)

Resilient individuals make up the majority of any resilient organization. Without fair-minded people who can flow easily with disruptive change an organization can sink into non-resilient behaviors. Continuing with the cancer metaphor (uncontrolled, abnormal growth of behaviors) some non-resilient behaviors include: denying treatment by or because of outdated policies,  thriving in an anaerobic environment, and manipulating data for personal gain.

With so many of today's leaders talking about axing or reorganizing government institutions (see here, here, and here) at the individual level our resilience defines what strength we offer the organization. In turn the organization must be willing to evolve and operate in a way that befits us all.  Is the best solution to bombard the situation with radical and potentially fatal actions or can we find innovative solutions which can diminish the issue?

In the fabulous documentary about the rebirth of an American Indian language "We Still Live Here" a man says "We had asked our elders, spiritual leaders: 'How do we regain our language?' And we were told that 'It's not your language that's lost, it's you.'"

Have We The People lost our way? How can we attract and retain our resilient individuals and allow them to come forward into leadership positions? Big problems need big solutions, so let's all start where we are. As the beautiful African proverb guides us, "Each One Teach One."

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