Saturday, July 11, 2009

Secret to Business Growth: Rub-A-Dub-Dub

Business, communities and regions face growth issues. To solve such challenges, consultants are hired, flipcharts and PowerPoint presentations are artistically designed, and at least one taskforce is assembled. Rarely do people remember the famous all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten phrase. Enterprises have a habit of forgetting this simple promise once made by an influential teacher, parent or favorite aunt. To address the issue of growth, begin by looking at the characters in the nursery rhyme rub-a-dub-dub: the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

The Butcher.
The butcher provides protein which allows an entity to have the strength to move through the issue of growth. Strength can come in the form of identifying existing assets or successes upon which to continue to build. Additionally, strength exists in the growth itself—progress is motivating. The butcher cuts the aforementioned items into bite-sized morsels so they can be served over a long period of time. Growth is not about bingeing. Growth is not about overeating. Growth is about a proper diet over time. Without the proper amount of protein the growth in the organization or region may prove too difficult to lift and sustain. Along with protein’s long-term nature there is still a need for sudden bursts of energy during the growth process.

The Baker.
I know we live in a “no carb” world; however, the baker is a necessary partner during periods of growth. Groups in the midst of growth can get mired down in the process and bureaucracy. The baker cooks up deliciously delightful treats which lead to the carb-induced burst needed to move through the growth process. These explosions of energy take the form of excitement about the growth, the celebration of milestones achieved, or simply making it through another day. The danger with the baker’s carb creations is the reliance on them for overall nourishment. An organization or region cannot sprint its way through growth. Too many carbs can lead to an increase in overall weight and ultimately slow the growth to a halt. When it comes to diet, everything in moderation is a good rule.

The Candlestick Maker.
They key to managing growth is the presence of a clear vision. The candlestick maker is the one who is responsible for keeping the vision illuminated during the process. There will be times during the growth when the future looks bleak and dark. The end will be nowhere in sight. The dangers along the way will lurk in the shadows. While the vision may be created by many, it only takes a few to keep it illuminated. Business, community and regional leaders can cast the vision, but can they effectively communicate it? Can they pass the flame from candle to candle? Growth can be viewed as a big problem or great possibility. It just depends in what light it is being viewed.

It is interesting to imagine these three characters in a tub. Each plays an important role. There has been a lot of significant growth in the past decade. There have also been times when entities wanted to approach growth as a carb-based sprint. This reckless behavior led to unmanageable growth (think sugar rush and subsequent crash). Growth is truly a process requiring long term strength, small bursts of energy, and an illuminated vision. Before hiring consultants, posting flipcharts around a room, or organizing a taskforce, it may make sense to revisit Mother Goose.

What nursery rhyme would you use to describe your organization?

1 comment:

  1. and if one of them pees in the tub, the whole thing goes down. When strength (certainty), energy (passion), and vision (purpose) are integrated properly, the tide - in the tub - rises.