Growth and Maturity

Growth and maturity: A new paradigm for organizations

I’m excited to launch Interval Advisors, a new consulting practice based on a paradigm for growth and maturity that I’ve developed as an entrepreneur, investor, executive, and endurance athlete.

I’ve spent my career creating and executing growth strategies. Leaders love growth, sometimes to the point of obsession. We measure growth in terms of customers, transactions, sales, revenue, EBITDA, and enterprise value. We tie compensation to these metrics. Sometimes we naively step back and wait for the magic to happen.

The growth-maturity cycle

Growth is elusive and nonlinear. We grow for a time and then get stuck. We work to get unstuck and return to growth, only to get stuck again. Some leaders become frustrated and emotional when their organizations are stuck. Perhaps they expected smooth, continuous growth to continue forever.

The cycle of growth and getting stuck is part of achieving maturity. We grow until our immaturity stops us. When we have matured enough, growth naturally resumes until we get stuck again. This reveals another opportunity to mature, and the cycle repeats.

Executives who understand this growth and maturity cycle lead differently in its two phases. In the growth phase, they go fast. They scale up, find efficiencies, improve quality, enhance products and services, delight customers, and beat the competition. They push their people to do more with less.

In the maturity phase, effective leaders slow down. They step back and look at problems from a new perspective. They ask hard questions about their market, their offerings, their organizations, and themselves.

Some leaders don’t know how to slow down. When expected growth fails to materialize, they simply push harder. They are unaware that the organization is stuck and needs to mature before it can resume growing. They burn out and lose their best people, waste their investors’ capital on misguided initiatives, and impair the value of their brand.

More than a mere sports analogy

Growth and hill sprint intervals

Endurance athletes alternate between going fast and slowing down during interval training. They briefly push their bodies and minds beyond what is comfortable or sustainable, then back off to recover fully before pushing again. If they fail to push far enough into discomfort, they won’t improve. If they fail to back off, they will burn out and risk getting injured. Going fast and slowing down are both essential parts of training.

This observation is much more than a mere sports analogy applied to business. Organizations are made of human bodies and minds. The science of human physical and psychological performance is robust and continues to advance. Why would we fail to apply these evidence-based lessons to our organizations?

Go Fast, Slow Down, repeat

I created Interval Advisors to help our clients understand when to Go Fast and when to Slow Down. This allows them to enjoy sustainable growth, retain and develop their best people, and create outstanding value for their customers and investors without burning themselves out.

When it’s time to Go Fast, we bring top talent with experience in mature organizations to help our clients develop, test, and execute strategies for growth. Market definition, monetization and pricing, product definition and roadmapping, product launch and commercialization, and market development are just a few of the ways that we help clients Go Fast.

When a client is stuck and needs to Slow Down, we offer proven best practices, change management, and coaching. We help them mature their strategic governance, human capital, and organizational design. Slowing Down and focusing on maturing in these areas allows our clients to attract and retain top talent, make better decisions, and focus on what matters most. It creates the capacity to return to growth when the time is right.

Read on to learn more about our approach, and contact us when you’re ready to talk.