The Secret to Scaling Up: Growth vs Increase

10/21/2014 4:26:00 PM
By Jeff Stoebner
I recently listened to Randy Klein of Crestron Electronics talk about Crestron’s growth over the years (which by the way, is impressive). He touched on “increasing” in size versus “growing” in size. What a great point he made! Increasing in size may be simply adding more to your organization, typically in sales, however growth is what you do organizationally to prepare for increase.

Growing an organization may mean adding skills you did not have in the past or maturing your software systems and processes to handle increase. In some cases, you may leave behind things that won’t be able to handle increase.

Many companies are measured by the revenue they generate — with my company being no exception. Usually, what is actually reported is the company’s increase, not their growth. There is nothing wrong with talking about increase and celebrating when you are able to sustain it or being critical if you have a decrease. But from my experience, at the helm of a company that has doubled in size in the past four years, the message of growth versus increase is acute.

Companies will undoubtedly hit obstacles as they increase, and those obstacles require organizational growth to overcome. As a company increases, management structures have to be analyzed, and adapted. Software systems will become stretched thin and in many cases replaced. Some of the people who helped the company increase in size won’t get you to where you need to go next, and that’s a tough one to swallow. Processes have to be reviewed — the way you’ve always done it may work in some cases, but in others, adaptation has to happen.

In this context, I like to think about the car I drove in high school, a Z28 Camaro. I loved that car and was really proud of it. However, if that car was my primary transportation today, I’d have a problem. Today, I’m married, have five children, and haul a lot of stuff daily. Can you imagine handling all of that increase if I still drove that Camaro I was so proud of?

I would encourage all business leaders to contemplate increase versus growth, and to focus on them simultaneously. By the way, I believe Crestron has both grown, and increased! Thanks Randy for the wisdom!

Jeff Stoebner is the CEO of AVI Systems. Follow him on Twitter @jeffstoebner.

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