Verax International Ltd



"Maturity - Not the aging process"



You are old Father William the young man said


And your hair has become very white


And yet you incessantly stand on your head.


Do you think, at your age, it is right?


                                                                  Lewis Carroll




Has your organisation been stood on its head in the last 5 years or so? Many have – not always to good effect.


Organisational maturity has nothing to do with how long they have been established. External events and/or the way they are managed determines maturity. It goes in cycles. Significant organisational change can affect the maturity of your organisation and how it goes about things. How often have we recently heard calls “to re-new”, “to re-structure”, “to re-investigate” etc.


So how “mature” is your organisation and what does it mean for you”




Low Maturity Organisations


“Low maturity organisations” typically focus on “efficiencies” e.g. cost cutting, process efficiencies, last quarter’s revenue, margins, compliance etc.


Risk tends to be about punishment and blame when things go wrong; otherwise ad hoc/reactive risk management.

Selection is likely to be on the basis of “Technical” experience and “fit” within the organisation. Staff are recruited on the basis of perceived current needs (usually technical skills) and less so with an eye on the future.


There is likely to be no CEO evaluation policy. Senior managers are entrenched in their own self importance with little attention paid to other stakeholders’ interests.


Organisation structure looks like a hierarchy probably with silos.


Training/learning is incidental, informal on the job – maybe with some orientation training.


Decisions are based on information provided by management. Most managers tend to make decisions on a limited range of criteria, based on established practice, and with little constructive differing.


While most organisations are unlikely to be at the same point of progress on all the factors at any one time, it is likely that they will act about the same level on most factors.


Immature organisations typically have difficulty breaking through various plateaux e.g. revenue levels, growth etc. Growth only occurs through major external investment, mergers/acquisitions or unexpected large sales.


Trust between staff, manager and direct reports, between groups and departments will be patchy at best, universally poor at worst, because there is an inherent fear, threat and general anxiety (NB this may not be overtly expressed in public).


This makes the use of 360s questionable as the likely low trust levels militate against the openness and honesty needed for 360s to be useful. Competency based 360s are even worse as the competencies measured have often not been trained or explained, resulting in a sense of “gotcha”. Conventional management training will often deliver the best results.


Tangible benefits e.g. pensions, holidays etc are likely to assume greater importance in the minds of staff.



Medium Maturity Organisations


As organisations mature, managers start thinking more about at least a 5 year plan, new market innovations or new business model and focus on a limited range of priority company/business interests.


Management tends to be aligned with longer term objectives.


There is a structure for CEO and executive evaluation. Stakeholders and other external sources influence and contribute to decision making. There is common risk assessment based on an awareness of the sources of risk.


At this stage Learning and Development becomes more sophisticated. 360s can now be used professionally as part of a programme of development and performance improvement. Performance management can now play its part. Selection is done with an eye on the future.




High Maturity Organisations


In high maturity organisations there is a concern to transform business value to societal value, managers and staff are motivated to serve the needs & objectives of the Company which is being re-shaped for the next 20 years.


Diverse perspectives are sought and used. It is likely that there will be a number of heavy hitting non-execs on the Board.


Risk is embedded in daily activities, prioritised, evaluated and critical risk responded to appropriately.

Organisation structures may be more complex e.g. matrix, partnerships etc.


Learning is based on future needs using an appropriate mix of approaches including 360s, coaching etc directly aligned to the business (not personal) needs and a search for appropriate business leaders.


Selection considers potential contribution, especially to change, growth, achievement and sustainability.


Progression from one phase to another is not linear. Events and leaders may shift organisations backwards or forwards in part if not in whole.


This has implications for managers and how they manage. It is inappropriate to try to manage an immature organisation in a mature way or vice versa but managers have to lead any progression. So it is for HR. What may be appropriate at one phase e.g. recruitment or learning & development methods, may not be at another.


Long established organisations may still be immature. Newly formed organisations may become mature very quickly.


If you would like to understand where your organisation is right now and what the implications are, please contact us on

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