The Pursuit of Prime – An Introduction to the Latvian Translation
Written by Managing Director – Adizes Institute Latvia, Greg Mathers, as a foreword for the Latvian Translation of Pursuit of Prime.
My grandfather was born in 1891 in the USA when the horse and wagon were still common modes of transportation. In that same year, the Derwitzer Glider made its maiden flight carrying a man 24 meters through the air. That glider’s pilot and builder, Otto Lilienthal, went on to become known as the flying man and was the first person to repeatedly fly gliders, logging more than 2000 flights. His longest flight was just shy of 80 meters.
Seventy-eight years later, in 1969, I sat with my grandfather in our living room and watched on television the Apollo 11 space flight landing on the moon. As we watched the grainy black and white pictures, my grandfather declared that he had gone from growing up with the horse and buggy to seeing man walk on the moon.
In the 78 years that mankind went from the first short glider flights to launching men on rockets to the moon, the world experienced unparalleled change and people’s lives were transformed many times over.
Of course, since 1969 the amount and speed of change have continued to increase exponentially. Accelerating change has become our normal way of life and most of us cannot imagine any other world. In his 1981 book, Critical Path, American author and inventor Buckminster Fuller introduced the knowledge-doubling curve and surmised that before 1900 human knowledge doubled every 100 years. By 2013, a report by IBM put the number at which human knowledge doubled at every 13 months and now, in 2021 the estimate is that the amount of human knowledge could be doubling every 12 hours.
It is in this dramatically shifting environment that today’s companies must operate profitability and work to stay relevant. With his book, The Pursuit of Prime, Dr. Ichak Adizes provides company leaders with a roadmap for how their organizations grow and change over time and prescribes treatment for the common problems they companies face as they progress through the different stages of the organizational lifecycle. Knowing this roadmap allows company leaders to competently handle their internal changes, so they have the requisite alignment, strength, and energy to deal with the ever-transforming marketplace.
For the Latvian [and anywhere else in the World] business leader this book outlines and gives answers to the challenges faced when launching a business, managing it through fast growth, and then preparing it to hand off to a management team who can lead it to new heights. Moving through these stages requires managing accelerated change in a constantly morphing environment fraught with challenges.
Dr. Adizes, in inspiring prose, lays out the path from the heady days of courtship when the business is only an idea through the establishment of a company with its first employees. You will feel yourself immersed in the predictable problems young companies face while struggling to gain a foothold in the market and build a sustainable cash flow.
Then you will experience the fast-paced Go-Go years as founders take their successful companies on a wild, rapid-growth ride filled with big achievements, high risk, and the constant pressures of working at one hundred and twenty percent. These years are a time of great opportunity and great peril. Eager to push their companies ever bigger, founders create organizations centered around themselves. They operate as a helicopter, hovering over operational issues ready to drop in and assume control as problems arise. Eventually, the road gets bumpy as the company outgrows the capacity of the founder to be everywhere. Performance begins to stumble, growth stalls, profits are negligible, and confusion and frustrations arise. The problem is a founder over-extended and a company overwrought. The solution is to professionalize the management, so a team takes over handling the increased complexity.
During this stage of adolescence, the company must mature into its adulthood and enter the stage of the Prime organization, but no one really knows how to do it. The founder tries to delegate authority to his management team or replace himself with a professional manager. When these efforts fail the founder becomes entangled in a trap of his own making and finds it increasingly difficult to extricate himself from the company. However, should professionalization prove successful the company will move into Prime, the stage of high performance, high growth, and high profits.
Dr. Adizes continues the journey beyond Prime and into the aging years when the company has grown very large, overly rigid, and slow to change. As market forces continue to evolve the aristocratic company begins losing its relevance and sees customers drift away. As the trend continues the financial results turn downward and management’s actions focus on further optimizing operations to try and slow the losses. These actions only serve to further bureaucratize the company and hasten its decline. In the final throes of death, the company’s life is often extended artificially through government intervention since it has grown too large to fail.
Throughout this journey, Dr. Adizes offers recommendations at each stage of the lifecycle based on his more than 50 years of experience reshaping companies. The strategies and tactics put forth have been proven successful in the thousands of organizations that Dr. Adizes and his associates have helped to transform around the world.
While the prescriptions in this book cannot guarantee your company’s success, they will provide predictability in what often seems to be a capricious world. It is from this that you may find some measure of comfort in at least knowing what to expect, as your company grows and develops in its Pursuit of Prime.
P.S. This article is my introduction to translation of this book into Latvian published and available here.