Is Growth A Good Problem to Have?

Published: September 1, 2010

Welcome back to the Team Clock Institute's monthly newsletter. Each month, Breakthrough Teams will invite readers to participate in an Ask/Apply/Act model: Ask: this month's team challenge Apply: example story Act: action steps for consideration

ASK : “Is growth a good problem to have? How can we weigh the cost of choosing change versus protecting comfort?”

APPLY : Thanks to a series of top ten rankings, Elmhurst College has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade resulting in increased enrollment, new construction, expanding faculty and, of course, expected headaches with issues like parking, housing and class size. Recognizing that growth and change don’t occur without headaches, Elmhurst College’s leadership team has methodically worked on these challenges with innovative solutions like offering free bicycles to students and staff who agree to keep their cars off the campus.
May Creek Lodge, an assisted living facility in northern Minnesota, decided to expand their services to include “memory care cottages” so that they could create the ability to serve the growing segment of the population suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Not surprisingly, the cottages filled up quickly causing the May Creek leadership team to confront the task of recruiting, developing and retaining competent caregivers in a rural area where the talent supply is short.
So far, both Elmhurst College and May Creek Lodge are meeting their challenges with innovation and success although not without considerable pain.

ACT : If we innovate, everything changes. During the uncertainty of the current economic times, it’s tempting to take cover and ride out the storm. Is this, perhaps, a time when we should be agitating change? The Team Clock model educates us about the relationship between the innovation and distancing phases of a team’s growth. While instinct usually dictates the choice to stay safe and avoid change, judgment suggests that protecting the status-quo could lead to a reactive, defensive posture rather than proactively driving our organizational destiny.
Leveraging healthy conflict and earned trust to create something new in the face of uncertainty requires bravery. The resulting innovation equates to a conscious decision to invite change and all of its consequences.
How’s your bravery score these days?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.