“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, who laid the nations low!”
Why has one the great creative agencies of Scotland, and London, fallen into such disrepute, and failure? The once invincible bastion of our sector is no more.
They seemed to have undergone the five stages of corporate decline as: hubris born of success (arrogance) the undisciplined pursuit of more (greed), the denial of risk and peril; grasping for salvation (being a victim); and capitulation to irrelevance or death.
The kind of leadership we have in organisations has been critical to the decline of the creative world; the characteristics of teamwork that’s gone sideways in organisations like navyblue can be summarised as: leaders asserting strong opinions without any evidence; team members passively accepting decisions but not actively trying to make the decisions work; team leaders asking few questions and avoiding critical input; team members seeking individual credit and self interest rather than the team’s interests; teams blaming someone when things go wrong; and teams failing to deliver results.
By contrast, the kind of leadership that has helped agencies of a similar ilk remain successful even through the recession can be outlined as: the truth is told by everyone in the organisation to leaders; evidence supports decisions; teamwork is marked by extensive questioning and feedback; team members make decisions work once they’re made; team members credit each other for success; failures are seen as learning experiences, and no one is scapegoated; each team member is accountable for results and delivers them without excuses.
The really courageous leaders in organisations don’t dwell on what’s gone wrong, or act like victims, but rather these leaders see failure as a state of mind and when states mind are changed, reality changes.
Decline can be avoided. Decline can be detected. Decline can be reversed.
Decline, it turned out for navyblue, was largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lay largely within their own hands. They weren’t imprisoned by unique circumstances, or history, or even their staggering defeats along the way. As many of their peer group have found, as long as they never got entirely knocked out of the game, hope always remained. The mighty can fall, but they can often rise again. Navyblue, sadly, is now midst the desolate landscape of fallen great companies.
Mike Lynch, navyblue 1996 – 2006