Growth at all cost?

David Maister posted another great article today relating to the almost relentless quest for corporate growth in todays marketplace. David writes:

In most companies and firms, it is taken as a matter of unexamined faith that the organization must grow. A related article of faith is hat size matters – in marketing, in recruiting, in profitability. And I worry that all these good reasons for seeking growth get urned into a mania for *ANY* growth, where the measure of success becomes growth at all costs, not **wise** growth. I don’t believe all growth is good. For example, if two average quality firms of average size merge, is the bigger entity really more competitive? Do customers and clients REALLY re-allocate their business based on who’s the biggest firm?

At the end of the post, he asks 3 great questions…my answers are provided for your enjoyment.

(a) Do most companies place size and growth ahead of quality and getting better?

I think that there is an interest at quite a few companies to get ‘big’ and have multi-billion dollar revenue. It is very rare that I run cross a mid-sized company that is happy being mid-sized. Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” idea seems to be the thing that is being discussed all the time these days…I wonder if this idea of stepping away from the mass market and focusing on the ‘niche’ will have any effect on the way organizations perceive the idea of ‘growing’?

(b) Is his, ultimately, bad for them?

Growth without constraint (including ensuring quality) is not a good thing. One way that it can be good for a company is to ensure that all growth is performed in a manner that creates a sustainable and profitable organization while at the same time building a unique and enjoyable corporate culture for employees.

(c) What,if anything, can be done about that (or is it inevitable and irresistible)?

I haven’t had enough coffee to tackle this question fully :). However, upon first thought, the only real tangible thing that can be done is to educate boards and senior leadership that quantity is not always better than quality.

I think this may actually be taking place in some areas of business with the rise of the Customer Evangelist movement. Technorati Tags: , , ,

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