The Fall of Organizations and People- Common Threads

The Fall of Organizations and People- Common Threads

Companies and people tend to increasingly fall as they get older. Companies fall and people fall. Are there common factors why they both fall? What lessons can be learned? This buzz attempts to answer these questions.

The most successful companies are prone to fall as they grow older. This is best reflected by exploring Fortunes’ list of companies. Studies reveal that by comparing the 1955Β Fortune 500Β companies to the 2017Β Fortune 500, there areΒ only 60 companies that appear in both. Less than 12% of theΒ Fortune 500Β companies included in 1955 were still on the list 62 years later in 2017, and 88% of the companies from 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged with (or were acquired by) another firm, or they still exist but have fallen from the topΒ Fortune 500Β companies (ranked by total revenues).

Likewise; people tend to fall as more often as they grow older. Understanding the causes of the tendency of older people to fall more often may help in better our understandings of why companies fall. For example, In the United States, falls cause 32,000 fatalities a year (more than four times the number caused by drowning or fires combined). Falls are also responsible for serious injuries. Falls are the second leading cause of death by injury, after car accidents.

Business have fitness landscape with many peaks and troughs. The fall from a peak to a valley may make some companies scary of falling. Instead of learning why these companies fell to make better steps in the future many of those companies get trapped by the fear to fall again. A vicious loop emerges as is shown below.

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Fears leads to more fear. Like fire β€œeats” itself if find nothing to add to its fuel. So fearful companies become. They generate more fear and the likelihood of falling increasing drastically. These companies feed the possibility of falling more with increased severity.

Scientists are now encouraging people to learnΒ howΒ to fall to minimize injury – to view falling not so much as an unexpected hazard to be avoided as an inevitability to be prepared for. Companies need to do the same because they may learn from falling to become even better than they were before falling.

One way to reduce the severity of falling is deaccelerating before reaching the ground. Organizations need to maintain deacceleration by having a spring-like rubbery structure to minimize the effect of falling. Instead of doing this most companies become more rigid and unable to make timely decisions to deaccelerate. Worse. They develop organizational structures that are rigid, and they fall on asphalt-like surfaces than falling onto rubber-like structures.

Research has also revealed the connection between falling and malnutrition. Companies suffer as well from malnutrition of talents and the lack of tempting them to stay. This makes their falls harder and thus more exposed falling again and again.

Unlike illness people who fall suddenly suffer from psychological effects that could endanger them more to more falling. Companies that fail may suffer from the same and become prone to more falling. Here, the maturity of management is severely tested on how best to cope with such psychological ill-effects.

I mentioned earlier that falling on rubbery surfaces may absorb the shock of falling. This is not always obeyed as much as these surfaces may reduce the impact of falling; equally they may increase the frequency of falling. This is paradoxical as what relieved falling they may be the cause of falling. Many studies have shown that as much as falling from a height is harmful; yet more harm is caused because of the frequent falling on smooth surfaces. This highlights the need to take precautions to avoid falling to the maximum degree possible.

Physical defects such as poor hearing may cause the loss of body balance and the possibility of falling. Companies need to listen the whistling wind of change and not be deaf for it because they lost the β€œpower of listening”. Likewise; companies may be drunk by their successes to walk safely and not fall.

There are many lessons from understanding why humans fall and extrapolating them to understanding why businesses fall.


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Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#50
WOW! life's fitness landscape and it has peaks and troughs. Whether we like it it is going to go this way. Falling and failing are an integral part of life. We better learn how to anticipate them and mange them rather than falling into self-blame and avoid the risk of falling. Your point is valid John Rylance

Liesbeth Leysen, MSc. beBee Global Brand Ambassador
Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#49
Thank you for sharing the buzz my dear

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#48
Yes, the same applies to the opposite direction dear . Your point is well-accepted.

John Rylance

John Rylance

2 years ago #39

Wow this topic has generated some very interesting ideas/comments I'd like to add this to the mix. I was listening to a programme and one of the topics was encouraging the elderly to become more independent and leave hospital. A Doctor said on one level he wanted to hear people were falling, as it meant that attempts were being made to gain independence.  It made me think of the maxim often quoted re companies success. To improve it is necessary to fail-/fall.  Basically it's the ability/willingness to take risks. 

Liesbeth Leysen, MSc. beBee Global Brand Ambassador

life as it is, fall and rise

Liesbeth Leysen, MSc. beBee Global Brand Ambassador

lovely article, the opposite can also be deducted from your article, people can rise after the fall by following the opposite factors

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#46
Oh dear Jerry- this is my quote of the day. It is your writing "The muscles and the bones of people and companies must be used in order to remain limber and responsive"

Jerry Fletcher

Jerry Fletcher

2 years ago #35

Dr. Ali, I've come late to this discussion and apologize for that. In my view (having just come from the gym where they are working with me on mobility, balance and strength) I believe that for both individuals and companies the key to not falling and/or minimizing results of falling is to have ongoing exercise. The muscles and the bones of people and companies must be used in order to remain limber and responsive. And so it goes.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#44
Yes, and you remind me of the social cycles and of panarchy. Both go through the same cycle of growth (because of success), then proceed to the phase of conservation, followed by release and then either chaos or self-organization. The success cycle then repeats. This is also consistent with the success syndrome, which you explained elegantly in your comment Roberto De la Cruz Utria. This explains the varying phases in which countries fall in. While Asian countries are in the phase of exponential growth other countries are falling i the restructuring and self-organization.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#40
Thank you Pascal Derrien for your clarification. I stopped using the mobile for commenting because I went through the same experience.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

2 years ago #32

#38
I did not just the clunky platform on mobile has tricked me ☹️

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#37
You bring a hugely important point John Rylance. The tendency to make our weak bodies weaker isn't the solution. I liked your expression "Vegetating in a chair".

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#36
It seems that Pascal Derrien related to that comment. Age has its impact on us and this is a fact that we need to accept. As you said, life goes full circle and today we are on the peak of of our fitness to find ourselves later on the trough. Here we need to minimize risk to the maximum degree possible.

John Rylance

John Rylance

2 years ago #29

#30
For many elderly people the Anti-falling strategy is not to or rarely move at all. An approach that not only means vegetating in a chair becoming weaker,  but resulting in an increased likelihood of falling when they do move.

John Rylance

John Rylance

2 years ago #28

#35
Reading your and Pascal's comment the maxim Pride comes before a fall came to mind. It set me thinking how our (us oldies) pride means we take calculated risks, when moving around. I don't need a stick. I can walk on the icy path. I don't need to hold on to the handrail, when walking upstairs Etc. They life goes full circle we start unsteady on our feet and finish life unsteady on them. The difference being when young we bounce back, when older we invariably lie there in a varying level of pain.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#34
WOW!!! You know you surprised me with your five lines comment Pascal Derrien. You are correct and your point of the age effect is true. It is very important for companies as well as for aged people (and I am one of them) to minimize the risk of falling rather than deal with a fall. The older we get, the more precautions we should practice.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

2 years ago #26

I am sure age is a denominator kids fall a lot and get back up without thinking about it, same for starts ups they adjust in flight now the foundations of companies and ''people'' aged and the consequence of a fall can be more severe and it becomes harder to rebound. It does not necessarily mean the mind is not agile , physical limitations and constraints are real and if not accepted that's where the problem start you cannot deal with the same event the same way depending on your age , immediacy and healing time evolve in length even though the intent or the outcome is the same

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#32
Your prescription for dealing with falling is ideal Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador. Basically, the formula for dealing with falls is to have the persistence to get up and the mindset that you learn from a fall. Therefore, I am in agreement with your comment "I like to believe I learn from my experiences, whether good or bad". Your belief reflects your healthy mindset and the persistence to do what you believe in..

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

I took a tumble about 3 years ago, which I fell on my left hand. The healing process took a while and I became frustrated because it wouldn't work to full capacity. The key, IMO, is not to give up! My fall was just another hurdle in my life that I had to face. I was determined I would be able to use my hand as it was before my fall. I like to believe I learn from my experiences, whether good or bad. Physically, I was fortunate since my hand is as good as new, however, mentally I had to get over the fear of falling again. Now, I try to be more aware of my surroundings and take notice of risks that not only myself, but others may encounter.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#30
Vishwas Asolkar- this is a great and probing comment that is filled to the brim with wisdom. Complex landscapes, and our minds are complex, have fitness peaks and toughness. Not all landscapes are the same. Some minds have rugged ones with many peaks and troughs. No sooner than they rise, they fall again. Some minds have a distinct peak with a sharp possibility for a deep and big fall. We need to improve our minds' fitness if we are to progress. That is why your thought " For such a situation there is a need to evolve an energy state within our mind to ensure a smooth flow of stream of thought and actions , without getting perturbed with the momentary effects of negative energy of fall" resonates so well with me. Thank you for energizing my mind this morning.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#27
In fact, your comment was one motive for me to write this buzz. I am getting quite old, and i know that with age we lose partially our hearing and therefore our balance. That is why as we get older we need to learn how to minimize the risk of falling to the maximum degree possible.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#26
Isabella M H Wesoly- it is great to read a comment by you again. Thank you for sharing your falling experience and the great lesson it taught you. Yes, sometimes the price for great lessons is falling and you proved this well. Falling is an experience and either we learn from it to advance or we just lose spirit and cry for losing our hopes. It is not shameful to shameful; far greater is failing to learn from it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as I truly enjoyed your comment.

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

2 years ago #20

I actually did take a tumble last year and usually my reflexes help me avoid the full force of a fall, so age affects both reflex and balance, and that can be easily proven because older people lose some of the balance we learned when we were younger, and the reason for it is related to our ears where resides that balancing mechanism. Then the analogy includes falling due to loss of balance where we expect our listening faculty to be. https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/43720-Balance-vestibular-system

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#23
Thank you dear Clau Valerio for commenting and sharing of the buzz. I liked your thought "Accidents and falls are expressions of anger, which indicate an accumulation of frustrations in someone who does not feel free to express themselves or assert themselves". Negative feelings such as fear and anger can be put to good use with the right mindset. If not, they can build up to harm us and make us fall more often. Yes, nobody likes to fall, but it is our responsibility to check our attitudes and behave wisely.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#21
Dear Edward Lewellen- great to know that you are busy with your work and the testimonials you have say much about your capabilities. Yes, and neuroscience does indeed reflect on what fear does to us and paralyzes our good thinking. Fear , as you said, makes us see what we don't want and this activates the fear loop. Fear brings more fear.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#19
Thank you dear Debasish Majumder for your lovely comment and sharing of the buzz. You bring a great issue. The higher we are (on an organizational structure), the more falling shall be hurting. People at the top need to learn how to fall from their heights because if not they shall accelerate coming down and the more serious shall be falling.

Debasish Majumder

Debasish Majumder

2 years ago #16

wonderful insight sir Ali \ud83d\udc1d Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee! time and space as well the conditions along with the concern constituent's inherent quality perhaps responsible for falling or rather changing state. most interesting is the space too having up as well bottom positional state and it too help us to determine the terminology as 'falling' or 'going up'! however, great buzz sir. enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#17
Great and relevant quote Zacharias \ud83d\udc1d Voulgaris

Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris

"United we stand, divided we fall." - Aesop

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#15
You are most welcome my dear Tausif Mundrawala

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#12
Harvey Lloyd because because it is worthy of your reading time. It is a great read and I encourage all readers of this buzz to read Tausif's buzz.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#11
Not only what I think of your wisdom, but also of the wisdom of your great grandfather who taught generations how to build great structures by using wastes! Reinforcement from animal fats waste is a great lesson that we don't have to spend dearly to make our "house" formidable. I am stunned by his wisdom and your comment makes a great story for a great buzz. Now I know where you derived your wisdom from dear Tausif Mundrawala

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#9
This is true and we should question the validity of our assumptions and beliefs for they may lead us blindly. Your further exploration of Tausif Mundrawala buzz is on point and I am digesting your comments here and relating them to what Tausif wrote. May be this is a way to get our of the "envelope of my own risks".

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

2 years ago #9

#8
Tausif Mundrawala post is on point here. During my transition (Boomer) to a younger staff i had to be selfless in exerting my older understanding of the future customer. This was no easy task as much of ones meaning comes from their risk reward processes within their professional lives. I was selfish in going with ideas inside of my risk envelope. I tried desperately to not let on to the selfish risk envelope i was engaged. I merely pointed out better ways to achieve the same thing, sustaining a manageable envelope. His post further weighs in our being conditional or axiomatic in our beliefs. Staff instantly knows when things are conditional and will strive to meet the conditions of approval. This is not always healthy for an organization. Axiomatic beliefs allow room for others to stretch themselves into risk areas they see. A team that is not taking risks is following conditional axioms provided by their leader.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#7
This is a comment for every body to read and learn from. What you saying saying that vertical growth alone is insufficient. It has to be coupled by vertical growth. Then reading more your comment, the idea that we need not limit ourselves to vertical or horizontal growth, but also following the many possible inclined lines (that could be corrugated) between the two. This idea is worthy of further exploration. Success syndrome is a topic that I wrote about before. Yes, over-confidence can be killing. We need to stop and rethink. We need also to have the courage to have selfish self-correcting, as dear Tausif Mundrawala mentioned in his great buzz of today. Harvey- you are a great mentor and a source of inspiration.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

2 years ago #7

#4
Horizontal vs vertical growth is part of the risk management within capitalizing a plan. In vertical growth i can leverage what i know to expand similar offerings. Horizontal growth i am expanding into areas that my past knowledge does not necessarily support my risk. I heard a speaker once who discussed the concept or syndrome if you like, that when we are successful we tend feel that we can be successful in anything. Like i am a great business leader so it stands to reason i would make a great heart surgeon. In the horizontal risk envelope one should stow away their confirmation bias of success leading to vast wisdom concept. In our firm a few years back we realized that my boomer mentality was no longer viable within the customers we were reaching out to. It took 5 years but we eventually got a team together that can truly speak the language of the newest generations. With each new team member, we brought on potential horizontal growth leaders. We have exercised two of these growth segments with success. Minimizing my boomer mentality confirmation bias. These were strong leaders as they had to endure my risk analysis and inquiry. Luckily but professionally they prevailed. We launched with minimal risk (100k total, with only half of that exposed at any one time.)to test markets and engage our customer to help build the programs.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#5
I hope the weather will be understanding and keep your challenging project on track. How could I think for a second about the validity of your saying "If future customer meets old you, they will seek better answers to their needs?". You said all with such simple, yet deep question my friend.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

2 years ago #5

#3
This gets back to my resounding question, Why should someone buy from me? And i do mean me, not my company or team or market. When we attack this question from intrinsic values we must feed on a steady diet of customer needs, wants and desires. This gives the best chance of designing our company for the future our customer will present. If future customer meets old you, they will seek better answers to their needs. It is so easy to get caught up in executing around goals that the customer slips from the top three positions to almost non existent. Sorry for the sound of silence it has been some struggles here on a large construction project that we are not well equipped to perform. We are nearing its end, if the weather would cooperate. We are at the erosion control stage now.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#2
This comment is in agreement with my response to your first comment #1. Yes, investing in many directions is better than investing in one direction. Maybe we need to read the history of successful companies more deeply than we do. Plants scatter their seeds in many directions and soils so that even though some seeds might not germinate those which do may ensure the survival of the plant.

Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#1
This is a great comment from you dear Harvey Lloyd after a "spill of silence". No wonder that I miss your comments because they speak to my heart and mind. You mentioned few great thoughts. One is "I would say that an axiom of feeling customer needs would shed light on the catastrophe before it became so". This is true and anticipating a catastrophe or being ready for one when iit comes unexpectedly are far better choices that reacting to a crisis of this dimension when it happens. One other thought is your "The more capital we invest in one direction exposes us to market disruption that we can not withstand". This is very true. If we read the history of Microsoft in which the company made investments not only in DOS 4, but also in window and in competing companies to make sure that Microsoft wouldn't lose should a threatening company emerge as winner. The company invested in many directions. A mi right to say that it is better to put your investments in many directions rather than putting them in one direction (basket)? I couldn't agree more with you.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

2 years ago #2

A good story to see in current times is watching energy companies deal with the political push towards renewable energy. What capital do they risk to the technology that is not far enough along to meet the needs of the world? Very challenging decision on their part as they do want to be listed on the fortune 500 list a few decades from now.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

2 years ago #1

Your fortune 500 commentary brought the word confirmation bias forward. A new company seems to always recognize a need and fill it. Over the years the need in the customer changes, but the company does not want to see this as they only confirm their own bias of the past need. Although i agree that companies need to have catastrophic planning and your rubber metaphor is appropriate, i would say that an axiom of feeling customer needs would shed light on the catastrophe before it became so. When the boat had a pin hole we saw it as ok, when it grew we knew it would heal itself because we are a good company, even when we started bailing we knew the market would comeback to their original need. When we sank it was an existential crisis. One of the key elements to your rubber metaphor here is flexibility within your long range thinking. The more capital we invest in one direction exposes us to market disruption that we can not withstand. In the 80's and 90's the printing industry was upgrading large presses every six months. If you capitalized around one of these presses you found yourself outdated in just a few years. This all ended with i believe xerox coming up with high speed small batch 4 color presses. This wiped everyone out quickly. In assessing capital risk, confirmation bias is the same thing as dark glasses. Current and post commitment should be measured without bias.

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