The term “CycloPraxis” means aligning a worker’s praxis to the stage in a business unit’s (or project’s) overall evolution.
“Praxis” means one’s “customary practice or conduct”
- certain types of individuals are best suited to certain stages of business lifecycles / projects
- staff can be organized by praxis, rather than function alone
Four distinct kinds of praxis are identified:
The Innovator1 praxis works best initially and only initially
Innovators = visionary, overconfident, risk taker, unstructured, revolutionary, difficult to understand with never-ending creative ideas, will be creative even if inappropriate
The Builder praxis works best during the ramp-up of a business unit or project
Builders = organized, drivers, multitasking, problem solvers, pragmatic, impatient, energetic driven above all else to achieve goals, need constant challenges and seek them out
The Capitalizer and Captain praxes work best during a business’s profit making or resource optimizing years
Capitalizers process followers, optimizers, consistent, participative, balanced, measured happy with predictability, stressed and ineffective if proposing or following change
Extending praxis of Experts, Empathizers, and Educators is essential for continued customer success
Extenders = helpful, trustworthy, sociable, satisfying, structured energized by resourceful solutions to traditional customer problems.
Diversification is simply a reapplication of Innovating and Building and it keeps Innovators and Builders engaged in work they enjoy most, while furthering growth of the company
Four stages in company lifecycle correspond to contributor praxes
Principles of CycloPraxis
The first principle of CycloPraxis is that workers are happiest and most productive when their praxis matches the business unit life cycle
The second principle of CycloPraxis is that a mismatch is as challenging to a worker’s productivity as a function (Development vs. Sales vs. Human Resources vs. Finance vs. Etc.) mismatch.
The third principle of CycloPraxis is that the praxes do not get along very well with one another and this leads to predictable employee turnover. The reason for discord between the praxes is that they each have their unique means of dealing with any specific business problem. These unique approaches are grounded in their strengths [and they often don’t have much appreciation for other praxes’ strengths].
The final principle is that the culture and operating style of any business is set by the CycloPraxis of the employees.
Evolution and Praxis
In considering filling positions in an organization, function is usually used to determine “good fits”. And yet over the course of business development, top performers often fall by the wayside or “get in the way” of continued growth. Morale suffers and there is internal tension (which can be puzzling). This is found to be the case in small, medium-sized and large companies, and it is far from rare.
Mismatches of employee praxes with the cycle their business is in, is a prime culprit in this phenomenon. Workers whose skills fit the bill, but whose praxis is inconsistent with the life cycle of their organization become demoralized, disenfranchised, and they are eventually pushed out by advancing numbers of co-workers with a different “later” praxis. Each praxis has its place, but each is not very compatible with the others.
- Innovators of new ideas must give way to Builders, who figure out how to standardize and formalize those new ideas.
- Builders must give way to Capitalizers, whose focus is on abiding by existing standards and steady improvement of a consistent product/idea.
- Capitalizers must give way to Extenders, whose focus is on keeping the business running through “high touch” customer care and personalized application of expertise.
Note: Innovators and Builders can be “redeployed” on new diversification projects, as soon as the existing project they’ve just created has moved to the Capitalization stage. This Diversification enables a company to continue to grow and expand, despite the “decline” of the Extend stage.
Each praxis has its place in the company life cycle, and if an employee’s praxis is ignored or goes unfulfilled, they will seek opportunity elsewhere to realize their potential.
Further, praxis differences between working groups can add to tension and erode effectiveness in the overall organization. This is especially visible in mergers of companies with different cultures and collective praxes
Visual of Praxis Orientations
PRAXIS People / Task
Some individuals may “straddle” different praxes or be comfortable in more than one, but essentially each person has one defining praxis to which they default. Employees can be compelled to learn the praxis of the dominant business culture, if it is not their own (and it is clearly defined and communicated), but those with less conservative praxes may feel compelled to seek challenge and fulfillment in new surroundings.
CycloPraxis gives us a way to understand th[e] unsolved dimension of fit between workers and their work.
“Praxis” is one’s “customary practice or conduct” meaning the way a worker naturally does things.
Prefacing with “Cyclo” aligns a worker’s praxis to the stage in a business unit’s overall evolution: Innovating, Building, Capitalizing, (Diversifying), and Extending.
Note: 1 Originally, the term “Author” was used to describe individuals who function best at the startup phase. “Inventor” was added to it, but ultimately, “Innovator” seems to be the most appropriate term to describe these individuals. Where “Author” and/or “Inventor” is encountered, “Innovator” should be understood.