Agility, Time, And Our Aging Organizations

“As the end of the century approaches, all our culture is like flies at the beginning of winter. Having lost their agility, dreamy and demented, they turn slowly about the window in the first icy mists of morning…[then] they fall down the curtains.”  -Charles Baudelaire

No matter how ageless something or someone appears, time will eventually invoke its toll…

The weight of our years has a tendency to hang upon our shoulders with the gravitational pull of the Mariner’s albatross. We can stall it off for a time, but even the grandest of our efforts can stave it off forever. It is just the nature of things.

The boundless energy of our younger years slowly depletes, regressing into small portions that we allot out more and more frugally. The energetic bounces and springs of childhood fade slowly into creaks and groans of adulthood. Not much we can do to fend it off. It is just the nature of things.

The grace and agility of our younger years has become grounded in the conscious realization that the memories of what was, stand in stark comparison to what is. What was once so effortless now necessitates great mental and physical fortitude. Our pace, grace, and agility has slowly waned over time. It is just the nature of things.

And while time takes its certain toll on us physically, we have to be deftly aware of how easily we can allow time to reap its own toll on leadership and our organizations.

Unlike our aging bodies, we control how our organizations will age. It is not the nature of things. It is what we allow. We affect the nature of things. We determine if we will allow our organizations to grow soft, complacent.

Our very leadership determines the aging process of our organizations. It is often found and forged in the leader’s mindset.

When a leader’s mental agility goes the way of their physically aging agility, often, so goes the organization. The bones of the organization become brittle. Creaking and popping with movement. Agility gives way to comfort. Movement and change become difficult and arduous prospects to entertain. Eventually, bogged down in the baggage that time has heaped upon its structure.

And unlike our bodies, our organization’s can ill-afford to lose the agility that alludes us in our later years. Today’s organization’s have to determine how to remain agile, nimble, fluid, in thought and action. They have to remain both mentally and physically agile to keep pace with the rapid rate of change in our world. We can’t afford to have…

Organization’s that are unable to cut free from the baggage collected over time.

Organization’s that fail to remain both physically and mentally agile.

Otherwise, they will go the way of the Titanic, becoming…

Large and unwieldy. Slow and stubborn. Unable to turn in time. Unable to avoid or acknowledge the iceberg they are bearing down on. Unable to maneuver the behemoth they have created.



2 thoughts on “Agility, Time, And Our Aging Organizations

  1. Hi David
    I appreciate the points, both thought provoking and poetic, that you have raised. In Ontario we are currently in the midst of a challenging labour stand off between our provincial government and our major teacher unions- a stand off that is creating all kinds of stress and strain. One thing that has surprised me is how our districts have responded- some have employed traditional, power-based strategies, some have used these times as a chance to build their presence in social media. Some, like our district, have continued to stress the importance of the relationships during this time and how we as principals are critical in sustaining these relationships; with staff, students and our community.

    The need for me to be ‘agile’ has never been more important:)

  2. David,
    Your writing hits the spot for me….it speaks to both my heart and my mind. It is beautiful and flowing, like a meandering stream, it takes you somewhere out of my comfort zone both gently and smoothly.
    I love this metaphor, it is both apt and astute.

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