Businesses Are Either Growing or Dying

I've started reading The Real-Life MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch. I actually bought the book two days before enrolling in their MBA program (through the Jack Welch Management Institute) and am really enjoying the book so far.

They start by explaining that for any business to succeed, it has to have alignment between its mission, behaviors, and consequences. Mission is defined as the company's destination (where is it going), behaviors as its transportation (what actions are necessary for it to get there), and consequences are how these are rewarded (or punished).

Although the book has great ideas on how one can work towards alignment and deal with nasty surprises (what they call getting "whacked"), I want to focus on the next chapter: growth.

As they point out, anything that is not growing is dying, so companies have to be actively growing at all times. Growth is also what makes a company culture exciting and a job meaningful.

Some tips to help achieve growth:
  1. hire new talent that will bring in fresh perspectives;
  2. don't dilute innovation funds, instead concentrate them on the few projects that will have the most benefit;
  3. put your top talent on the important innovation projects;
  4. encourage everyone to look for ways to incrementally improve their work and reward these incremental innovations;
  5. update your compensation plan so that you're rewarding (and tracking) what will lead to growth;
  6. remove those that refuse to innovate so that they do not jeopardize everyone else's momentum.
Even having read only four chapters, it's obvious that although Jack is all about succeeding in business, this is not at the expense of employees and morale. He recognizes that nothing is possible without true leadership and spells out what this means, both in good times and in bad times, with plenty of examples to back this up.

And having worked both for companies that are growing and those that are not, I can vouch for the different impact each has on morale.

How have you or your employers encouraged growth? Did it work?

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