Candle in stump holder. (c) J. Samuel Burner (CCA-2.0)

Why Requisite Organization Will Not Survive (Or Will It?)

E. Forrest Christian Change, requisite organization 66 Comments

UPDATE: Ken Shepard, President of the Global Organization Design Society, has written a response: Perhaps Requisite Organization is going viral under the radar!

I’ve been wondering lately if Requisite Organization (the ideas formulated by Elliott Jaques) will survive for much longer. The GO Society identified several years ago that most of their members were “gray” — retirees or close to retirement age — and there were few young people in the pipeline to replace them.

I’ve worked with Requisite Organization people for several years now, since being found while blogging about Elliott Jaques’s books. I reckon that I know most of the people in the field these days, by name at least. I can only think of a couple of people my age or younger who are active in it, Michelle Carter and Sergei (whose last name escapes me). Many of what the RO people consider the “younger generation” are actually close 50. Younger people like Michael Raynor (author of The Strategy Paradox) use the ideas developed at Wilfred Brown’s Glacier Metal Company in the 1950s and 1960s, but not especially those from Elliott Jaques’s later works. Especially not Requisite Organization.

If you want to have a movement, it’s probably a bad idea to not be developing young people to take your place. It’s interesting that for the most part this isn’t happening.

It may be that RO attracts certain personalities that are less able or less willing to develop others. There may also be personal histories that follow similar pathways. It may also be that Elliott Jaques did not develop or maintain disciples. There is a lot of bad blood with people who worked with him while younger. (Dr. Jacques has been dead for some years now and is no longer part of the equation.)

I’ve heard that there are tight restrictions on using RO materials. Others who parted ways with Dr. Jaques also are aggressive in restricting use of their trademarked ideas. Nothing wrong with that at all, unless your restrictions limit the expansion and growth of the ideas.

I talk with people who would love to use Jaques’s insights but need mentoring. I have no idea how they would get that. The firms that use Requisite Organization theory seem to be small, person-driven shops that will die with their principals. I can’t think of any school that would provide training: using Dr. Jaques’ insights in most Masters degree programs would be degree suicide.

If you’re an RO professional and have better insight, perhaps you would say what is true. Maybe there is a large cadre of young people coming up in the ranks, but my impression is that the generation that Jaques trained himself is the end of the group.

image © J. Samuel Burner (CC BY SA 2.0)

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps individuals and companies find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants, both as individuals and as leaders of organizations at least as diverse. [contact]