What Makes Organizations Thrive

Published: August 24, 2015

What is the most basic recipe for creating and sustaining a healthy organization? Not surprisingly, it’s not much different than the path to a strong relationship: 1) Make an investment. 2) Build trust. 3) Sponsor growth. 4) Adapt to change. Here’s a quick primer on these four simple steps.


Make an investment

In order to invest time and energy into an organization, there must be value in return. The team’s mission, values, and vision must be aligned and behaved on a consistent basis. There must be room for disagreement and constructive conflict.

Build trust

The path to trust is forged with every interaction. Respect, connection, and accountability help it grow. Cultures that permit words and behaviors that undermine the wellness of the team eventually damage trust. That which we allow we also sanction.

Sponsor growth

Creativity and exploration add fuel to the team. An organization that embraces diversity and takes smart risks provides a platform for new ideas. As work gets more complex, innovation responds with simplicity.

Adapt to change

Unless embraced, transitions threaten to drain the life out of a team. Once teammates appropriately mourn the losses in personnel, status, and opportunity, it’s time to refocus on the new circumstances. Resilience is the team’s way to acknowledge the pain of the change while, simultaneously, adapting to its realities.

Once a team experiences a transition, it’s time to reinvest. These four simple steps usually occur in cycles. Investment is followed by trust. Trust builds a platform for growth. Growth produces change. The organization adapts and repeats the cycle.

Where is your team on the Team Clock?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.