Who Gave You That Idea? Number 5, Gerry Faust – Professional Growth Systems

Who Gave You That Idea? Number 5, Gerry Faust

This post is the fifth in a series on management “gurus” who have influenced and shaped the products and services we offer at PGS. To start with post one, click here.

The next iteration of Lifecycles

When completing due diligence on Ichak Adizes, his former partner, Gerry Faust surfaced. Because I was not comfortable entering into an association with the Adizes Institute, but greatly admired their work, I decided to investigate Faust Management Corporation.

Gerry and Ichak had been partners for an extended period. Gerry was a long time researcher in organizational psychology and had developed the research instruments as well as the diagnostic instruments that brought Corporate LifeCycles from a theoretical model to a vital set of tools that managers can use to improve their companies. My initial meeting with Gerry in San Diego was scheduled for 15 minutes (“all the time he has”) and went for 1.5 hours. It was one of those magical meetings in which two minds meld and cook together. We became associates and friends and remained so until his passing in November of 2019, collaborating on a number of client projects and tools together.

After Gerry started Faust Management Corporation in 1983, he gathered data from hundreds of companies on the most commonly occurring problems. He called these problems “clues” to the highest value opportunities for change in an organization. Gerry took each of the 320 and ranked them in terms of the degree of association each had with the stages in the Lifecycle of an organization. That is, when you are in a given Lifecycle stage, there are predictable problems or “clues” that exist. He also examined these “clues” in terms of the extent to which they can predict future problems or successes in companies. From this he created an assessment of 3 critical Life Cycle Warning Factors and 11 Future Success Predictors. These scores and the patterns of Clues associated with them provide powerful information that help leaders and their organizations identify their most important problems to solve.

The two diagnostic tools resulting from Gerry’s work, the Comprehensive Organizational Assessment and Life-Cycle Assessment, I have found to be invaluable. Here’s why: You can’t really know your true condition until you are clear about two points of reference; namely, where you are now and where you intend to be. Think about being lost. To get out of being lost, you have to know where you are and your destination. With these two points you can set your direction. If you know only one of those two points, you are still lost. Gerry’s instruments provide both. The destination is Prime, and your current condition is reflected in the current Life-Cycle position and scores on Warning Factors and Future Success Predictors.

My experience with these instruments is that they are highly instructive and motivating both for boards and CEOs. CEOs gravitate to challenges, and reaching and maintaining Prime is truly a challenge. Boards are often unaware of what the destination looks like for an organization, what they are shooting for. Understanding the Corporate LifeCycle model, as well as the current condition of the company has proven to be a huge learning experience for the boards I have worked with.

A couple of other points. The data from these two assessments can be broken down by level within the organization, by location, by subsidiary or any other cut you would like. This enables you to understand the extent to which those in the organization share a common view of condition, problems, solutions etc. Achieving that sort of alignment is key to achieving high performance.

Gerry’s approach to strategic planning, especially in the area of strategic assessment, greatly influenced the design of that portion of our Vision Navigation® process. Gerry had a knack for getting at the core quickly with questions that groups find challenging and enlightening. He is missed, but his body of work lives on in the strategic plans we facilitate.

And if you are interested in our other posts in the series “Who Gave You That Idea?”, click below: