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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your Next Move

"To increase their odds of success in their new roles, onboarding executives need to recognise that each company has its own distinct 'immune system,' comprising the organisation's culture and political networks. Just as the function of the human immune system is to protect the body from foreign organisms, so is the organisational immune system ready to isolate and destroy outsiders who seek to introduce 'bad' ideas."

"To protect the human body, the immune system must demonstrate equal parts under- and over-reactivity. If it responds too weakly to warning signals, it may fail to mount an effective attack against a virus or may permit a damaged cell to grow into a cancerous tumour. But if the system overreacts, it will go after good things in the body, producing autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis."

"Similarly, when the culture and political networks in organisations are working well, they prevent 'bad thinking' and 'bad people' from entering the building and doing damage. If the company's immune system responds weakly to warning signs, bad leadership can infect the business and do tremendous damage. But if the system is working too well, even potentially good things coming from the outside can be destroyed."

(Michael D. Watkins in 'Your Next Move: The leader's guide to navigating major career transitions,' p. 93 HBP)

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