What happens when your organization grows?  Do you celebrate immediately and have high-fives all around?  Or is there a kind of analysis that attempts to determine the cause of the growth?  In the August 3rd reading in The Daily Drucker there is a very interesting piece that reminds us that "a business needs to distinguish between the wrong kind of growth and the right kind of growth, between muscle, fat, and cancer."  Isn’t that an interesting proposition?  What does that mean?  And what could that mean for you?

Before I get into that, let me just say that Drucker assumes that every organization has a "minimum of growth required."  And with that as a presupposition here are his rules on the need to distinguish between muscle, fat, and cancer:

  • First, growth that "results in an increase of total productivities of the enterprise’s resources is healthy growth."  What are productivities?  Let’s say productivities would be fruitfulness.  And you could see how that would be.  If we’re talking attendance or participation growth, it should lead to an increased involvement in the end result: involvement beyond consumption.
  • Next, growth that results only in volume and does not, within a fairly short period of time, produce higher overall productivites is fat."  Again, if productivites is fruitfulness and fruitfulness must be more that consumption (attendance) then if it doesn’t lead to involvement it would be considered fat…and according to Drucker if it doesn’t "lead to higher overall productivity it should be sweated off."  That is an interesting observation!  Isn’t it?  Think about your organization’s mission.  For instance, if you’re in business to produce change in lives and your understanding is that engagement in living beyond yourself produces change, then you won’t be satisfied with simply increasing attendance at your events.  You’ll be looking for next steps.  Drucker’s saying that if you don’t see that in a "fairly short period of time…it should be sweated off."  What might that look like?  How about inserting periodic calls to action?
  • Last, Drucker calls out the idea that growth that leads to a reduction in fruitfulness should be eliminated by radical surgery — fast."  What would cause growth that reduces fruitfulness?  What about programs that take energy away from a careful definition of your mission?  Couldn’t that lead to a kind of growth that reduces productivity?  Yes.
Drucker on Growth