Thoughts on Downsizing

by Jan Yuill

These thoughts were sent in response to a query by Wendy through the MSOD alumni list about an organization that was going through downsizing and possible shutdown (060612) …

I remember in the MSOD ZETA class having a discussion about the death of an organization (that was 1982!). At that time, strangely enough, it was so uncommon that discussion about it was not warranted. We had not had much experience with organizations shutting down then. How things change!

I think it is very helpful to think of an organization as a living entity (and to hold firmly to that analogy). What would anyone do when faced with the diagnosis of a terminal illness? Is your organization going into palliative care? Or is it going for chemotherapy in hopes of a remission? When faced with death, there are things that need to be said, that are normally not said. Relationships matter most, although sometimes it is not until our last days that we realize this.

There is probably a great deal to do right now involving finances and legalities, but the greatest opportunities are probably in the emotional reactions to the change that is taking place.

And who knows?! Perhaps in dealing with the new reality, the emotions, and relationships (grief, loss, unknown futures, etc.), the ‘organism’ could be healed? Stranger things have happened. There may still be some life (and health) to recover.

If the organization does not know what OD is, that may be in your favour. Using the illness/health analogy might help. Is there enough belief to make a turnaround happen?

Good for you, Wendy, for saying you don’t know what the answer is!