Although businesses aspire for continuous growth, it is not always achievable, and many organizations encounter a decline at some point in their existence, from which some may not recover.

A recent study indicates that it is often feasible to restore an organization from decline if one comprehends the fundamentals of recovery.

The process of reversing a decline and initiating a path towards recovery usually commences with examining the organization’s mission and emphasizing its fundamental principles.

The Five R’s of Organizational Recovery


According to the author, the aspects that need to be retired are the “identity claims and attributes that are active, conscious, but detrimental to the organization’s recovery.” The author suggests that if Blockbuster, the video rental company, had abandoned its physical stores and embraced video streaming, it might have survived. The company needed to let go of its shops.


There are other aspects of the organization’s identity that need to be reclaimed. These are the “organizational traits crucial for recovery but have been forgotten or abandoned by the organization.” They should be remembered, stated again, and continued in their original form.


Certain facets of the organization’s identity need to be reaffirmed. Here, the author refers to the “active and conscious organizational traits that are still vital for the organization.” The example given is Pennsylvania State University, which lost its focus on serving students from disadvantaged backgrounds and became more aligned with the private sector. After reaffirming its status as a public university, it regained funding.


Regeneration involves restoring and recreating organizational traits that are essential for recovery but are currently in disrepair. This process requires significant effort from members of the organization, as it involves identifying the attributes needing restoration, allocating resources and attention to redefine them, and creating an immersive experience that supports their recreation.


Reimagining pertains to the central organizational traits that may have deteriorated, been forgotten, or abandoned but are still present in the consciousness of leaders and members. These traits, in a new form, are vital for the organization’s future. An example provided is how Polaroid started developing digital cameras to adapt to the changing photography industry.


By following the structured process of introspection based on the 5R’s, organizations may enhance their recovery process, assuming there is still a demand for their services or products. However, if there is no market for them, returning to the founding story or any of these steps is unlikely to be helpful. In such cases, the best approach is for organizations to pivot and find a new niche or embrace a new trend. Organizational reinvention then becomes crucial.

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