by Glen Llopis, Forbes Magazine, 6/17/17.
…When you are managing growth you are essentially just managing demand. In the years before the Great Recession, companies grew so fast that the objective was to handle it all. Most businesses and leaders took the same approach to managing that growth: They provided employees templates that delivered what was expected. Then, in 2009, companies were forced to reinvent and find the opportunities to grow again. They needed to find the growth but faced new challenges from online sales and global brands in all industries. So what happened? Did those businesses reinvent and recreate growth – taking a page out of the way America’s great brands did in the past? No. Recreating growth requires completely different skill sets, and most companies chose substitution not evolution: They just tried to revise the existing templates for managing growth, taking them to new markets. They created new logos, tag lines, ad campaigns, and corporate values that basically were the corporate version of putting lipstick on a pig – and employees and customers saw right through them…
When organizations and leaders are managing growth, they are very prescriptive. They don’t have to worry about the client buying more – they already are. They don’t have to worry about individuals: The business drives everything. Employees influencing the future? You’re too busy taking orders to worry about that, and the cultures those businesses created supported those prescriptive approaches governed by templates and leaders who ensured we did the things necessary to manage predictable outcomes. Every department was silo-ed. No one worried – as much – about things like engagement, trust, or authenticity. But no one was complaining about that because businesses were generating predictable growth. There was no need to see any new opportunities. There seemed to be an endless harvest.
Until there wasn’t – and leaders had to recreate growth for those organizations. Everything had to change. But it didn’t. When businesses needed individuals more than ever to help them evolve and recreate growth, they didn’t have cultures that supported that their intentions were good. Because they weren’t. Most organizations and leaders tried to recreate growth in the same way that they managed growth and employees realized just how artificial those cultures had been. They stressed against the silos and realized they and their leaders had little authenticity and individual identity. They were just using the old templates and passing them off as new strategies. And so many employees lost trust in their leaders and organizations, because those leaders were not authentic and vulnerable with them.