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Training & Business Systems

Exploring the 4 Stages of Organizational Growth

Like any living, breathing organism, your organization grows and evolves in stages.

What once worked for the business as things were getting off the ground may become less effective or no longer work as it grows and matures.

We’ve seen this first-hand at ZingTrain. We began as a one-woman startup in Founder Maggie Bayless’s attic and evolved into a thriving, mature 26-year-old training business with fourteen staff members, a large training facility and a roster of wonderful clients. 

And then the pandemic hit, forcing us to furlough all of our staff in the short-term. After a few months, with the help of a PPP loan, we were able to bring back a portion of our team to try to keep the business going.

Suddenly, we found ourselves back in start-up mode since in-person training wouldn’t be happening in the foreseeable future. If we wanted to stay in business, we would need to make the shift to a brand new-to-us method of training – virtual – within a matter of weeks. We’ve seen first-hand how the needs of a start-up differ drastically from that of a mature business!

Which is why we’ve turned back to Edgar Schein, long-time professor at MIT and a graduate of Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago. He is an expert on organizational behavior, change, leadership and, most especially, corporate culture. Schein was an early thought leader on leadership and instead of arguing which leadership style is the ‘best,’ he posits to instead consider which leadership style is needed for the stage your organization is currently in. 

Schein’s book, called “Organizational Culture and Leadership” outlines four stages of an organization’s development – Creating, Building, Maturing and Changing – highlighting leadership strengths that are best applied during each of those stages.

We’ve been using this framework at Zingerman’s for decades, giving leaders the opportunity to identify the needs of the business, where they’re most comfortable leading and where opportunities exist to grow leaders to meet the business’s changing needs.

In this webinar, we’ll explore the 4 Stages of Organizational Growth. Identify which stage your business is currently in, where you feel most comfortable leading, and where opportunities exist to grow yourself or other leaders in your business!

As Zingerman’s Co-Founder Ari Weinzweig says of Schein’s work,

“This particular essay is, to me, like a marvelous, well-polished diamond in a messy mine of business literature. His insight has helped me get to where I am, and I’m eternally grateful.”

Download the webinar files