Is your business in a straitjacket?

Dec 24, 2010

This week we’re looking at how you want to grow in 2011 – by step growth, linear growth, or a combination of both.So far we’ve looked at the main reason most organizations fail to achieve step growth: Senior management doesn’t know where to get it from; we then contrasted the resource needs for each, and discussed the primary requirement for achieving effective step growth (mastering linear growth first).

To close this brief series, I’d like to share the straitjacket I see larger organizations strapping themselves into when attempting step goals.

An organization that has reached Predictable Success has the ability to deliver both step growth and linear (incremental) growth. It’s one of the signs that you’ve made it there.

Consequently, a sure sign that an organization is beginning the slide from Treadmill (a painful, but recoverable state of over-dependence on systems and processes) into The Big Rut (a highly dysfunctional state where the organization has become bureaucratic and has lost the power to self-diagnose) is the loss of its ability to deliver step growth.

To view this another way, here’s the sequencing – the DNA, if you will – of step growth and linear growth as an organization moves through the seven stages of the Predictable Success lifecycle:

Early Struggle: Everything is step growth.

Fun: Very fast linear growth. Occasional step growth.

Whitewater: No step growth, linear growth goes backwards.

Predictable Success: Both linear growth and step growth are mastered and part of the growth mix.

Treadmill: Step growth is budgeted / panned / demanded, but rarely achieved. The effort of achieving linear growth sucks all into its maw.

The Big Rut: Only linear growth is achieved – and it is increasingly slowing and/or harder to get. Step growth is anathema – attempts to achieve it are increasingly and embarrassingly inept.

Death Rattle: Flatline. No growth, and eventual death of the organization.

Why does a larger organization in Treadmill begin to struggle with achieving step growth? Because it’s in bondage to ‘better’. The video I made over at that post says it better than I can summarize here, so if you haven’t viewed it already go do so now.

How do you know if your organization is sliding into Treadmill (or even worse, into The Big Rut)? Well, when you set step goals, but everyone is so consumed in meeting all the systemic and process-driven requirements of ‘merely’ maintaining linear growth (however anemic that growth is), then you’re there.

If you want to check, you can take this quick (and free) assessment.