A Story of Growth: Growth for Business and Business of Growth
Growth is a central and significant process for any organism or organization. Growth is attributed with so many adverbs and adjectives. Growth Rate, Growth Pangs, Growth Dependence, Growth Crisis, Growth Plateau..and so on...Growth comes in many forms as well; Gradual, Exponential, Leaps and Bounds, Organic, Vertical, Horizontal, Out of Control, and so on..Of course, there is physical growth, spiritual growth, growing taller, growing wider, growing inclusive, growing for all, and so on...
Growth is a necessity in many cases. Growth is shunned by some. Growth is a challenge and predicament for several. One of the problems is that growth often does not go along with development. Because growth and development are two completely different phenomena. Growth and development either can go hand in hand or just go diametrically opposite.
A business in the interest of making profits: whether for getting returns to investors, or maximizing shareholders wealth, or for basic sustenance, needs to grow in terms of size, productivity, profitability, market share, and for power, legitimacy and reach and so on...Organizational growth can either lead to wealth, happiness, joy of achievement and cooperation; or it can result in entropy, enmity, ennui, atrophy, and disorder and chaos. Both are possible outcomes of growth.
Historically, politically or economically speaking, growth is time dependent, path dependent, or space or resource dependent. Time dependent means growth follows a pattern of time periods. Any organism or organization can grow within the time bounds or periods only. Of course, - all along the history, genetic evolution, or economic or political changes - breaches have occurred throughout history; like sudden breaks or lapses in the time and growth pattern. Like for example - punctuated equilibrium or political revolution or technological innovation - resulting in a new pattern of growth.
Growth is often path dependent. The future course of change and evolution is dependent on the path traveled. One cannot deviate from the trodden path at ease. Often observed 'as fate ordains'. None of the living organism or species can escape the genetic structure that has been given to it by its ancestors. To our knowledge, mutation or observable evolution has happened either by accidental/volitional cross pollination, breeding, or due to aberrations such as diseases or congenital disorders, or artificial experiments. What determine the physical and cultural traits of Eskimos, for that matter most tribal populations? and will they exhibit different patterns of growth and change in economic or political organization? Yes, indeed. In the technology world, there is an interesting story of how width of horse's back determined the railway gauges, carriages, and in turn the size of NASA rocket boosters placed on the railways 150 years later.
Obviously, growth is also space and resource dependent. Within the planet, capabilities of organisms are bound by space and resource munificence. More space and resource munificence, more growth easy. Like, many areas of continental United States prior to 1900 were uninhabited open space. Any sooner can run as far as he can and stake claims of 1000s of acres. We can see how modern United States or Canada could build million miles of highways for past 10 decades without much legal challenges or costs, Which is almost impossible in other countries.
As a living organism, an individual's growth is determined both by the self and environment. Human life is shaped both by freewill, and time, path, space and resource constraints. Can humans defy the dependence and shape their own future the way they wish? May be to some extent in some areas. But for most part, we are time, path, space and resource dependent. So while planning and measuring growth, we have to be systemic, comprehensive and balanced.
All said and done, individual growth has to be steady, balanced, time bound, right proportions, and healthy. In this light, can we shape our own future? Can modern Science, Economics, and Politics will pave the way for such a future. If human growth is mishandled for any reason, what we witness would be degeneration and disorientation for sure. What ever growth brings, we have to achieve both standard of living and quality of life for here and now, as well as into the future ...
Same thing can be said about organizations - whether profit-making, non-profit, government, or educational - the notion of growth requires a profound evaluation. However, in the organizational world, often growth can be triggered, expedited or even ended without much consequence. Growth in business is sought in many ways: new investments, mergers, takeovers, chaining, acquisitions, shoaling and alliances. If the growth is not managed correctly, firms appear to be losing their center of gravity, and experience crisis after crisis. Growth has to be meticulously planned, managed and controlled.
Organizations can grow big in terms of assets, revenues, profits, or geographical expansion, however, they need to sustain their balance, resolve inherent contradictions, seek cooperation, and be sustainable and harmonious with environment and stakeholders. Not surprisingly, recent evidence suggests that growth of corporations have reached a point of entropy and atrophy. Large firms are becoming unsustainable and out of control. Growth variables: assets, employees, revenue, profits, and market capitalization are not strongly associated with each other for large organizations. Organizational growth also needs to be evaluated on a multi-faceted criteria of its potential to enhance synergy, quality of work life, 'disentropic' resources, societal causes, and sustainability.
While seeking growth organizations should not insist too high a uniformity and conformity to enhance scale advantages. Homogeneity of organizations can result in entropy, attrition, and turf-wars within and without. Growth through diversity and resource heterogeneity has inherent advantages of balanced and harmonious growth. Resource heterogeneity through shoaling and alliance constellations, rather than complete merger, can lead to dis-entropy, innovation and continuous growth. There is an Indian mythology "Bakasura Demon"; Bakasura having grown too big, could not contain his appetite, and eventually turned into cannibalistic creature and ate his own limbs. And we cannot afford to eat our own limbs in search of growth, and should stop eating our own stomach.
Finally, Spiritual, Sustainable and Balanced Growth for One and All matters the most..Are we learning to grow better?
Best regards, Senthil Kumar, PhD.