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Excerpt from Go For Growth

By Robert M. Tomasko



"In this industry, you are either growing or dying," is an observation that now more true than ever. This book is about growing a business. It is more a "what to do" guide than a "how to do it" manual, and written for managers and professionals tired of retrenching. Its audience wants to see their companies and careers grow, not contract; people who want to build, not destroy.

To keep focused on who this book is intended for, I talked with managers from several hundred companies, in a dozen industries in half a dozen countries, asking where they wanted to see their companies headed. With almost a common voice they said they wanted their businesses to grow. If all their comments could be pulled together into a "note from a prospective reader to the author," it would go something like this:

"I want to take this business to the next level. I'm tired of cutting back and squeezing. I want to see this company grow again.

"We're a bunch of smart people. We've been around the track. We know how to make things happen.

"Give us something to read that will stimulate our thinking, that will give us a sense of how to approach growth. Just don't fill it with a rehash of business school jargon ... another ten-phase, multi-year program ... or some one-size-fits-all gimmick of the month.

"And don't insult our intelligence by oversimplifying or sugar coating reality.

"Instead give us some principles, some lessons, some do's and dont's. You've watched companies grow. You've watched companies stumble. What have you learned?

"Tell us what we need to do to position this business to grow.

· "How do we select the right growth path for us?

· "How do we organize the business so our people's attention is focused on that strategy - not on last year's game plan or what made us famous decades ago.

· "What kind of people do we need to get us where we want to go?

"Right now some of us are chafing at the bit to move forward, and some of us are still ducking for cover in fear of the next round of cutbacks. There's got to be a better way to sort out who will be happiest here, who will have the most to contribute - and who will do better, with our help, to relocate their career.

"And, please, don't tell us to imitate Jack Welch, Bill Gates or Herb Kelleher. They're all good, strong leaders. But they're them; I'm me. I need to figure out what will work for me .

"Give me an outline I can flesh out. A road map. Give it to me in digestible nuggets. Tell me what questions I've got to ask. Provide alternatives, with the pros and cons of each. Help me find our unique path to growth. Help me find my place on on it."

If these concerns are yours, read on.

The next three chapters make a case for growth having priority over internal improvements. For many managers, though, it has been years since their business was in a growth mode. The world is different, now. The rules for growth have changed. Companies, as never before, need to customize their growth plans.

The five chapters that follow provide baselines from which alternative growth paths can be plotted. Different people contribute in different ways. At the end of each of these five chapters, first person descriptions are provided of what it is like to work in businesses on each growth path.

The last two chapters describe how organization can be used as a tool to focus everyone's attention on the business' growth objectives. Sustaining growth over the long haul usually requires a change in trajectory. Accomplishing this through organization change is the subject of the last chapter. Finally, an epilogue pulls these ideas together with some comments on how to apply them to your situation.

We've got a lot of ground to cover. Let's get started.


© Robert M. Tomasko 2002

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