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Breaking Organizational Codependence: Downsizing's Liberating Wake-Up Call

David Noer

September 10, 2009

"I'm told there is an ancient Chinese curse that translates into 'May you live in interesting times.' That it is a curse certainly rings true as we experience today's global pandemic of downsizing. Layoff victims and survivors alike react to this new reality with a toxic stew of debilitating emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety and depression—what I call layoff survivor sickness. We can change that though. We can reframe the death toll of the old paradigm into a wake-up call that will help us create an exciting world of work that is more autonomous, personally relevant, and more in congruence with our unique gifts. We first need to understand the nature of the change and the insidious power of organizational codependency. Then we need the courage to break its stifling grip on our human spirit and creativity. Part of our 'interesting times' involves living through the most fundamental change in the psychological contract that has connected employee to employer since the industrial revolution. Like it or not—and initially, most of us find a lot not to like—in this new paradigm people are viewed as short term costs to be reduced or eliminated, as opposed to assets to be nurtured and developed over a career. Despite our cultural conditioning, we need the courage to face this fact and reconceptualize our identity."

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