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Ascertaining the State of the Parish Using the Adizes Life Cycle of Organizations

“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

How to Use the Adizes Life Cycle to Analyze the State of the Parish

Introduction: Ichak Adizes (pronounced a Dee sis) created this famous graphic early in his career. When we look at it, we might recall a well-known quote by Peter Drucker, another well-known management consultant who wrote, “The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization (parish) are disorder, friction and malperformance.”

The chart serves as a useful reference for discussion on where the parish has been, where it is presently and where it might be headed. It is suitable for use as an exercise with the parish council and/or the strategic planning committee, with a parish focus group or within the context of a comprehensive strategic planning process leading to that rarest of all documents to be found in the priest’s office or in the parish council member’s manual – a written five-year strategic plan!

How to use it:

1) Ensure that there is someone taking careful notes at the meeting. 2) Distribute to those gathered just the graphic by itself. Allow them a few quiet minutes to reflect upon it. 3) hen distribute the sheet that defines the terms of each of the phases. Allow a few more quiet minutes for reflection. 4) Call for open discussion on the placement of the parish in light of the graphic. 5) Following the discussion, edit the notes and distribute to all those present and those who were unable to attend. 6) Decide whether or not it is appropriate to bring the recommended actionable items identified at the end of the discussion to the parish council for analysis and a determination of how to respond. Which ones will be registered but not pursued? Which ones will be implemented? Which ones require further research? Who will be responsible? Over what time frame? Open discussion and analysis is great but its only fantasy if there is no action that follows.

Suggested questions for discussion:

  • How closely does the history of the parish reflect this trajectory?

  • Where would you place the parish in light of its overall situation?

  • It is said of Orthodox parish life that we live in many centuries simultaneously; are there aspects of our parish life that fall on different parts of the life cycle or is almost everything coalesced around one point?

  • Consider the dynamic at the top of the chart related to “maturity”. What does the dotted line represent? What would that suggest for our parish?

  • What aspects of parish life, if any, are found on the downward slope of the figure? How threatening are they?

  • What aspects of parish life bring hope and promises to our future? How can these be enhanced, magnified and leveraged into all-parish renewal?

  • What specific, concrete steps should be taken in light of our discussion today?

Definitions of Terms

Courtship: The parish is not yet born. It exists only as an idea

Infancy: There is little support and the parish is not expected to survive without help

Go-Go Years: Opportunity-driven times when demand for programs and services causes growth

Adolescence: A parish begins to be concerned about its standing and its future; a time of turnover and upheaval, yet also a time for strengthening and reaffirming the vision

Prime: Energy is high and a strong current of entrepreneurial behavior exists in terms of new programs and services

Maturity: This stage is characterized by stability; the goal is to sustain maturity; strategic intent and entrepreneurial risk-taking begins to evaporate

Aristocracy: A feeling of self-satisfaction and inability to do wrong develops; excesses may occur, and communication breaks down; strategic intent only rarely exhibited

Early Bureaucracy: Increasing fear, inability to take responsibility for decisions, lack of trust and teamwork, complacency reigns, strategic intent disappears

Bureaucracy (decay): The ultimate negative attitudes such as fear, manipulation and distrust, parish is heavily politicized; history of the parish is increasingly glorified

Death: A default phase-out that is not deliberate

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