01 May 2014

Hindrances to Growth

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.”

--Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur and Speaker

In the third installment on business growth we look at barriers to success. When doing so it’s important to recognize there’s a lot beyond our reach.  

External factors weigh on the sustained growth of any organization.  They include smart competitors, government regulation, interest rates, recessions, and consumer confidence.

However, that leaves much under our control, including attitude and behavior.

Getting ready to grow

Recent posts drew insights from “The Alchemy of Growth.”  Here are five principles from the book to help us think about preconditions for growth that if not met impede our progress:

Laying the foundation for growth can take between 1 to 4 years of extreme hard work

In most organizations it takes 6 months to 2 years of reflection, debate and personal development to get ready to grow—this may include needed changes in personnel

So difficult is the task that the whole leadership team must share the resolve to grow—creating that resolve is foundational for success

No growth program can begin without a strategically and operationally sound base

Growth calls for investment—people and money

What else should we know?

There are potential enemies of the enterprise which reside, in varying degrees, inside all organizational cultures:

Success.  It’s not only fleeting it can be fatal.  Success allows pride to overtake a business or nonprofit and may contribute to its collapse.  Everyone assumes things are great when they’re not. Swelling egos must have some adverse effect on hearing since those in power don’t like listening to bad news.  

Building on success is one thing. Taking it for granted is another.  Beware of success.

Comfort.  It’s a thief.  Why?  It steals creativity, ideas, energy, and maybe even the future.   Being comfortable stunts careers. It keeps us from discovering solutions to our most pressing problems as we tire and give up too soon. Comfort ties us to the past and present putting the future aside.  

It’s a thief that needs to be caught.     

Inexperience.  The problem with inexperience is that it allows the same mistakes to be repeated.  An offset to inexperience is surrounding ourselves with experience.  This is done by hiring, collaborating or contracting for help.  

Groups such as Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) give free advice. 

Time and the right experiences are what it takes to learn, grow and change.  Everyone goes through a phase of inexperience--the goal is to graduate on time. 

Inertia.  Doing nothing is one definition of inertia.  This is a dangerous mode to be in especially during a crisis. Standing still may be appropriate in certain circumstances but not many. 

Dysfunction.   “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” has been on the best-seller list for a decade.  When it comes to “teams” haven’t companies been there and done that? 

Perhaps one of the reasons Patrick Lencioni’s book continues selling well is that human beings, in all settings, still find it difficult working together to get something done.  

Dysfunction means “having poor or unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people.”  It's a serious problem. Trust, or the lack of it, contributes significantly to this condition. 

Need help?  Buy the book.

What doth hinder us?

It’s a reality that everyone at some point will face extenuating circumstances and events. The “great recession” of recent times is an example of an overwhelming economic force that even the largest corporations such as G. E. and Citicorp were unprepared to handle.

A version of Oliver Hazard Perry's words after a naval battle, and first used in the comic strip “Pogo,” by Walt Kelly, in the 1960s, may be the best way to sum up the biggest internal impediment to growth:  "We have met the enemy and they are us."


Up next:   Achieving sustained growth


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