Magnet Ball vs. Zone Defense: How Mature is your Organization?

There are a lot of ways you can measure and categorize organizational maturity.  I’m sureCMMI_maturity_levels there are several classes you can take on it if you get a MBA.  The CMMI Institute, as an example, talks about how organizations move from being managed, to defined, to starting to self-optimize.  These frameworks are all valuable, but I like to think of this concept as a simple spectrum between two extremes:

  • Magnet Ball – One extreme for an organization’s maturity is like watching small children play soccer.  Everyone, except maybe the goalie, surrounds the ball and you from away it looks like the soccer ball is a magnet pulling all the children toward it, into a swarm of chaos
  • Zone Defense – The other extreme is watching an organized group of people who know their role, they know where their role ends and someone else’s on the team starts, they know how to do their job well, and they know how to help their teammates when they need — this is like watching a great professional sports team work


Another great way to think about this is Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development (forming, storming, norming, and performing) is a great framework to understand how a group develops, and how you can help move a group through those phases.

Where does your organization (whether it’s a company, or a meetup group, or a church) fit on this spectrum?  How could you move it a little more to the right and out of the chaos?

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