I have been a part of and have observed many start ups and big organizations on their growth trajectories. It is interesting to see how some businesses outperform themselves year on year while others suddenly start declining and eventually die. How and why does this happen ? What are the major killers of growth ?

Here are some of my thoughts :

Killer # 1 : Goals (or Lack of) – A company needs a clearly defined goal to bind the team together for consistent efforts towards success. This may be an obvious fact, but very few companies drum the goal into the hearts and minds of their people every opportunity they get – Vision is important but not as important as the Mission. State your Goal, define it clearly and revisit it every chance you get.

Killer # 2 : Hierarchy (or too much of) – While organization charts are important to set a structure to the company, it becomes very limiting when bureaucracy sets in and meritocracy is overlooked especially in today’s dynamic business environment. If every new idea or initiative has to go through ten layers of approval and justification, people just stop having bright ideas and acting on them.

Killer # 3 : Square pegs in Round holes (or vice versa) – You land into this performance killer when you start a dangerous trend of creating positions for people and not finding people for positions (right fits). You then have great people in completely wrong roles – is it a wonder that they are not great contributors to your growth trajectories anymore ?

Killer # 4 : Fear (or Risk Averseness) : Where there is a culture of fear, no matter how much you motivate or engage your people, they definitely will not step up or out of their comfort zones. It is as important to encourage “mistakes” as it is to reward successes. Companies need to create an environment where people are not afraid to give and be their best and to challenge the status quo else you can just say bye-bye to growth.

Killer # 5 : Metrics (or the wrong ones) : As often said, what cannot be measured cannot be improved. But it is critical to keep figuring out the right metrics for your company (derived from your Goal). Are you measuring your sales opening ratios or just your closing ratios, your investment in R&D/new offering or only your profitability ? Measuring the “Right” Metrics is critical so that the long-term growth goals are not sacrificed at the altar of short-term profitability.

What do you think matters most for a company to keep growing ? What limits growth ? What goals are you planning for your company in the year ahead  ? Would love to hear your take.

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