What Makes An Organization Healthy

July 8, 2022

Now, what makes an organization healthy? What is a healthy organization? What is a healthy system? It has to be effective and efficient, in the short and the long run. Like a human body, every part of the body has to be effective. The kidney has to do its job, the blood has to do its job, the brain has to do its job, the heart has to do its job, and the lung has to do its job. It’s the same thing for a company. 

All functions must be effective to produce the results for which they exist.  The system in its totality, with all its subsystems, has to be effective and efficient.  No waste of energy, because if you waste energy internally since energy is fixed, there will be less energy to deal with external purposes for which you exist. If you are sick, what happens when you're sick? You have no energy. You have no energy to deal with the world, that is why you tell people “Please leave me alone. Come tomorrow. I am too exhausted today. I am sick today.” When you are sick all the energy is dedicated to dealing with the inefficiency of the system. So, the organization has to be effective and efficient in the short and in the long run. 

I discovered many years ago that there are four roles, or you can call them vitamins, organizational vitamins, that are necessary for the system to be effective and efficient in the short and in the long run, and in order to be healthy.   And those roles have to work in unison.

Every system is a subsystem of a larger system.  Everything is a subsystem of everything else. There's a grand subsystem, the universe, and we are all subsystems of that and everything is a subsystem of something else until you get to the human being, and the human being is also a system.  You have a kidney and a bladder and lungs and heart and brain and I hope a heart as well, I hope. Each has a purpose to fulfill for the whole system. Each subsystem has its clients that he has to dedicate himself to perform in order for the total system to be effective.

So, for whom do you exist? For whom does the subsystem exist? To satisfy its client needs. So, Many people ask: who am I? Who am I? The question has been addressed in philosophy, psychology, and even religion. Don’t ask who am I. Ask for whom am I? 

You are for whom.  Tell me what you are dedicated to and I will tell you who you are. 

If I fulfilled the purpose of being a father, what am I? I'm a father. If I  fulfill the purpose of being a teacher. I'm a teacher. Tell me the purpose for which you exist and if you satisfy that need I will tell you who you are.  But in order to do that, you have to identify the clients. Who am I for has to be answered before you can answer who I am. Whom do you exist for? Who are those clients?  If your kids need you, and you fulfill the needs of parenting, you are a parent.  

Look at a hammer? Why is it a hammer? Because you use it to nail nails.  But if you use it to hurt someone it is not a hammer. It was an arm to hurt someone. So tell me what your client needs are, and what you satisfy, and I will tell you who you are.  That's where we start, and from there on we look at efficiency and all the other variables.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes