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Dr Ichak Adizes - Ten Stages Corporate Life Cycle Model

Dr Ichak Adizes is a renowned business guru and theorist, and founder of the Adizes Institute. Adizes' simple ten-stage corporate life cycle model is an elegant way to learn and understand the typical life-cycle stages that many businesses pass through, from conception to cessation.

  • There is no pre-set timescale for this corporate life-cycle, and many organisations do not fit this model. However, the life-cycle stages that Ichak Adizes describes in his model provide a useful basis for understanding a fundamental perspective of organisational change and the principle that organisational ageing is inevitable.

One of the main challenges for mature corporations is, therefore, to seek reinvention through new business development, before it's too late, often through the acquisition of other businesses in the infancy stage, or by developing new 'infant' business divisions within the parent corporation.

The single-word Adizes descriptions are actually quite self-explanatory for many people's understanding, which is part of the model's appeal and elegance. We've extended the model with some brief interpretation and descriptive examples of each stage below.

Adizes' Corporate Life Cycle


Explanation and Examples

1. Courtship

The initial development or creation of the proposition/model/business/formation/etc.

2. Infancy

After launch - the start of active trading

3. Go-go

Frantic, energetic early growth and sometimes chaos


Still developing but more established and defined

5. Prime

The business or organisation at its fittest, healthiest and most competitive, popular and profitable

6. Stability

Still effective, popular, can still be very profitable, but beginning to lose leading-edge - vulnerability creeping in maybe

7. Aristocracy

Strong by virtue of market presence and consolidated accumulated successes, but slow and unexciting, definitely losing market share to competitors and new technologies, trends, etc


Doubts, problems, threats and internal issues overshadow the original purposes

9. Bureaucracy

Inward-focused administration, cumbersome, seeking exit or divestment, many operating and marketing challenges

10. Death

Closure, sell-off, bankruptcy, bought for asset value or customer-base only

Adizes approach is a "proprietary, structured, pragmatic system for accelerating organisational change" which has been applied by the Licensees of his Institute since 1975. 

  • So it's not just a philosophy - the Adizes' ten phases is a business and methodology in its own right. 
  • Seemingly, when practising the 'methodology', Adizes' associates implement one or more of the 11 phases summarized below. These phases are "a systematic approach designed to help a client accelerate their development from one Lifecycle phase to the next on their path to 'Prime'.

The 11 Phases of the Adizes' Methodology

  1. Organisational Diagnosis - by the organisation's own management team
  2. Team Building - addressing the priorities from phase 1
  3. Change Management - introducing new processes and systems to improve organisational responsiveness and adaptability
  4. Vision/Mission/Values - developing strategic priorities and plan
  5. Structural Realignment - to better support the new strategy
  6. Management Information Systems - reviewed and developed to ensure they meet new requirements, with a strong emphasis on accountability
  7. Adizes' 'Technology Transfer' - enabling and licensing the organisation to cascade the Adizes methods down to each level, providing for self-sustaining progression
  8. Peak Performance 'Stretching' - optimising performance
  9. Strategic Resource Allocation - to evaluate the long-term direction and viability of each organisational unit and identify new directions for replacing discontinued activities
  10. Systemic 'Cybernetic' Structure - to enable continuous adaptability by formalising the change management system of phase 3, and integrate it with the structures of phases 4 and 5
  11. Synergistic Rewards Systems - ensuring rewards and compensation are relevant and appropriate to the new business shape and strategy 

Additional Resources 

  • The Adizes Institute is a change management organisation that offers its services around the world through a network of accredited practitioners. For a fuller explanation of the Adizes' methodology and the activities of the Adizes institute see the Adizes Institute website.