Why you plan for step growth but don’t achieve it

Dec 22, 2010

On Monday I asked you to consider how you wanted to grow in 2011 – by step growth, linear growth, or a combination of both.The rest of this week I’m sharing the main reasons I see businesses fail to achieve step growth, and from that, perhaps help you determine which route is best for you (by the way, what I’m sharing is equally appropriate to a business, division, department, project, group, team or even a career, for that matter).

We started yesterday with the first reason most organizations fail to achieve step growth: Senior management doesn’t know where to get it from.

Today, I want to show you the second reason why most organizations – even those which get the PESTLE thing – fail to achieve step growth. You can deduce the reason by comparing these two graphs:

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Effort required for linear growth

Effort required to achieve linear growth

Effort required for step growth

Effort required to achieve step growth

Look at the first graph…then at the second graph. Then at the first graph. Then the second graph. Now back to me. Now back to your man. Now back to me. (…Ooops…sorry. I fell into an Old Spice ad for a moment.)

When you’re growing your business through linear (i.e. iterative) growth, the effort required pretty much maps the expected outputs – if you put in the right (iteratively, incrementally larger) amount of work on a curve, then you get linear growth back in return. Everybody works solidly behind the scenes and you get the results you need (a highly generalized description of linear growth, but you get the picture).

Compare that to the ‘effort required’ line for step growth. Here the organization is permanently out over its skis – in other words, the effort required to get the required ‘step’ return is always being paid forward (on research, piloting, testing, refining, branding, educating…all the pre-investment that step growth requires).

As a result, most organizations that reach for step growth eventually get tired, or broke, or panicked because it feels like they’re putting out more and more resources without seeing the required return – or at least, not seeing it soon enough.

So…we could start examining good stuff like setting clear budgets and goals, and milestones, and ROI estimates, and gantt charts, and … well, more tools than you can shake a stick at – but that isn’t the point of this post.

The point is, that if you’re not relaxed about (or can’t afford to) push out resources ahead of results, then step growth – even if you grok the PESTLE stuff – probably isn’t for you. Or at least, not as a major plank of your growth strategy.

Anyways, you don’t need to make your mind up just yet – tomorrow we’ll take a look at the first prerequisite for achieving step growth versus linear growth. You can decide then. smile