At a recent trade show and conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I heard a statement by Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) that was profound. He was referencing a time in the 1990’s that a huge beer company, whose name rhymes with “tranheiser-push,” did an all out attack campaign on his business. While Sam Adams had been growing at an incredible rate each year, sales began to plummet. That’s when he dropped this business bomb: “You have to learn how to grow when you’re not growing.” What did he mean? Isn’t that like saying you have to learn how to work hard when you’re not working hard? Or as Yogi Berra once said, “when you come to a fork in the road…take it?”
What he actually meant was that this attack provided his company with a tremendous opportunity. It was an opportunity for them to learn to become more efficient, to cut costs wherever possible, to set up processes and systems, and to build a trellis to enable the company to scale when sales began to increase again.
There should never be a time where your organization is not growing. Leaders can ensure it’s company’s growth internally by looking at every level of the company, diagnosing it’s health, and coming up with solutions to become more competitive, more efficient in operations, and better at managing its workforce. It may also be an opportunity to build a healthier culture for employees by providing HR support, ongoing training, clear job descriptions, and a better feedback and review system. It could be renegotiating prices with vendors. Or if your books are a mess (meaning a trained accountant thinks they are a mess), get some help to get them in order.
When competition gets tough, the organizations that survive are those committed to constant healthy growth.
How is your organization growing when it’s not growing?