Don’t be a ‘no-growther’


    I recently facilitated a number of strategic planning sessions for engineering firms around the United States. I’m continually impressed with the number of participants who seem to counter every discussion related to growth with comments such as, “I think growth is great, we just should be careful about growing too fast,” or, “This is all good, but we should consider all of the things that could suffer if we do this. We certainly do not want to lose our culture.”

    I could cite hundreds of other examples that I have heard just in the last month. I have advice for anyone who finds themselves trying to play the “Let’s be careful” role, and it is captured in one word: Stop. You may think you are intelligently adding to the discussion, but the reality is that you reveal yourself as lacking ambition and drive.

    Growth is good. Growth is essential. Beating growth goals and growing fast is difficult and challenging, but it is fun and rarely does it cause any major consequences that are not completely crushed by the benefits of the growth.

    For our research at Zweig Group, we categorize high-growth firms as any firm that grows 20 percent or more per year for three or more years. That is a lot of growth. The fact is that the typical high-growth firm pays higher wages, much higher bonuses, has better benefits, and has tremendous stock appreciation all as a result of fast growth.

    And when we conduct deep research on these firms, we find that not only did their culture stay intact, it actually improved as a result of the rewards and opportunities that the employees enjoy.

    If you are offered a highly coveted spot to participate in your firm’s strategic planning, promote growth and stretch goals and be the person in the room who strives for greatness. Don’t be a “no-growther!” It’s not fun and pretty much guarantees that you will not be invited to future strategic planning events.

    Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at