Bottom-Line Growth Isn’t Enough (Friday Quote)

growthThe third of the four human elements we discuss in Humanize is “Generative.” This has always been the one people are initially least clear about, as generative is not a commonly used word (in any context, let alone the business context). The short definition of generative is the capacity to produce or create. In our context, we were expanding the definition to make that capacity sustainable, like a species being able to propagate and thrive. And then, inspired by social media, we also added in the element of being able to achieve that sustainable capacity to create by embracing constant change. Being generative as an organization requires an ability to grow and change and evolve in ways that are connected to (and involve, really) the rest of the system in the process. It’s not just about YOU creating and changing, it’s about you and the system doing that together. As we say in Humanize (p. 189), this requires a different view of “growth”:

Growth can no longer be only about growth in our individual bottom lines. If you view your organization as completely independent from the rest of the system, then an exclusive focus on bottom line growth is fine. That one graph looks great, all by itself, with the line trending up. But human organizations understand systems better than that, and they know that their growth is not independent from the growth and development of others in the system, from employees to consumers, to whole communities, and even to competitors. Securing growth for yourself at the expense of others in the system is frequently not sustainable. Generative organizations recognize this.