Five Secret Killers of Company Growth – Business Operations Performance Management

I have been a part of and have observed many start ups and big organizations on their growth trajectories. It is interesting to see how some businesses outperform themselves year on year while others suddenly start declining and eventually die. How and why does this happen ? What are the major Killers of Company Growth ?

Here are some of my thoughts and supporting images from Tom Fishburne, THE Marketoonist :

Growth Killer # 1 : Goals (or Lack of) – A company needs a clearly defined goal to bind the team together for consistent efforts towards success. This may be an obvious fact, but very few companies drum the goal into the hearts and minds of their people every opportunity they get – Vision is important but not as important as the Mission. State your mission, define it clearly and revisit it every chance you get.

Killer #1 Goal

Growth Killer # 2 : Hierarchy (or too much of) – While organization charts are important to set a structure to the company, it becomes very limiting when bureaucracy sets in and meritocracy is overlooked especially in today’s dynamic business environment. If every new idea or initiative has to go through ten layers of approval and justification, people just stop having bright ideas and acting on them.

Killer #2 Hierarchy

Growth Killer # 3 : Square pegs in Round holes (or vice versa) – You land into this performance killer when you start a dangerous trend of creating positions for people and not finding people for positions (right fits). You then have great people in completely wrong roles – is it a wonder that they are not great contributors to your growth trajectories anymore ?

Killer #3 Square Pegs Round Holes

Growth Killer # 4 : Fear (or Risk Averseness) : Where there is a culture of fear, no matter how much you motivate or engage your people, they definitely will not step up or out of their comfort zones. It is as important to encourage “mistakes” as it is to reward successes. Companies need to create an environment where people are not afraid to give and be their best and to challenge the status quo else you can just say bye-bye to growth.

Killer #4 Fear

Growth Killer # 5 : Metrics (or the wrong ones) : As often said, what cannot be measured cannot be improved. But it is critical to keep figuring out the right metrics for your company (derived from your Goal). Are you measuring your sales opening ratios or just your closing ratios, your investment in R&D/new offering or only your profitability ? Measuring the “Right” Metrics is critical so that the long-term growth goals are not sacrificed at the altar of short-term profitability.

Killer #5 Metrics

What do you think matters most for a company to keep growing ? What are your views on the Killers of Company Growth ? What goals are you planning for your company in the year ahead  ? Would love to hear your take.


  1. Suchitra Mishra

    Hello Joel,

    Thank you so much for dropping by and for sharing my post. Talent is indeed the critical factor for a company’s growth. You have to hire the right talent (Killer #3), empower them (Killer #2) and create an environment of excellence (Killer #4) to leverage the best performance out of your talent. Simple Truths – but these often fall by the wayside when short term priorities get more focus than long term goals. And then it becomes too late…


  2. Jose Baldaia (@Jabaldaia)

    Hello Suchitra!
    I like the way you tell the story of these killers of organizations growth.
    In fact they seem to be the most evil but individualism (or lack of collaborative work) and the lack of recognition of good work can destroy the basic constructions as well.
    However, I think that if the five secrets murderers are were combated individualism disappears and the recognition of the value of each emerges naturally.
    I look forward to an article for each one of those killers! :-)
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    1. Suchitra Mishra

      Hello Jose,

      Thanks for dropping by – I follow your blog which stands for originality and innovation. I agree on your points of collaboration and recognition. Though technologically there have been large strides made in collaborative tools, no tool will be successful if the organization does not have a collaborative mindset – tools just add to bureaucracy then. And of course, recognition is so powerful to build the right mindset. Are you recognizing people for only successes ? Or do you reward failed attempts too. Is toeing the line more important than taking initiatives ?
      Looks like I have already started thinking on the lines of your suggestion for a post for each of these – Thank you :) Thinking about topic ideas sometimes gives me nightmares. But then I remind myself about Seth Godin’s suggestion for curing writer’s block : Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure.
      Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.

  3. sonal chokshi (@smc90)

    Hi, This is a nice summary but I’d caveat the “creating positions for” vs. finding right people for — it’s one thing to do the former based on existing employees, but in terms of hiring new talent:

    When I’ve been on interviews I’ve always experienced that people end up reframing the role around my skills and best fit. Sometimes that works because some roles are “fuzzier” and involve multiple hats — the key of course is focusing that in the right way.

  4. Suchitra Mishra

    Hello Sonal,

    Thanks for dropping by. When I wrote that point, I had in mind existing people rather than new hires, I probably should have made it clearer. I meant the game of “musical chairs” that sometimes is played in orgs, where positions are shuffled internally to make place for existing people.
    Being a generalist myself, I have never been limited by my formal positions and have worn multiple hats at multiple times. But there is a difference in expanding a role and creating a role.
    Thank you for your perspective, honoured.

    1. Suchitra Mishra

      Thanks for dropping by Rahul.
      About the mission statement, I have been a part of quite a few such exercises and have been guilty too of thinking up “strategic” cliches to make the mission statement look – what else but strategic :)
      The mission statement needs to be the Purpose, the clear Goal that every employee in the company can easily relate his/her every task to. That is what breaks through the silos in an org most effectively – a common, clearly stated, easily relatable goal.

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  6. vishagashe


    This is really well written post. Just stumbled upon your blog and now I will bookmark it. Keep up the good work.

    (Bad) Employee morale is a big one (and I guess that is result of five killers you have identified). Creating environment (again by avoiding above mentioned killers) where employees feel empowered, appreciated and motivated to innovate and accomplish goals is critical one.

    Vish (@vishagashe)

    1. Suchitra Mishra

      Hello Vish,

      Feel lucky today – you stumbled on my blog AND found it interesting enough to read one of my earliest posts – Thank You.

      Morale and environment as a result of the morale – nothing new here and have seen tons of research on this topic but isn’t it surprising how little importance this subject is given at the executive level and boards ? We run after numbers quarter on quarter giving scant attention to the well-being of the people who work for achieving these numbers. And suddenly, one quarter after another, the symptoms show in terms of higher attrition, lower productivity and horrors – missed targets. That’s when the management sits up and tries some Band-Aids – a bonus here, an award there, promises of hikes and off-site meetings at some snazzy place, but of course that’s not going to work at all.
      Morale and environment take time and sustained efforts to build and when you get it right, you don’t need to run after numbers – they take care of themselves.

      Thanks so much again for reading and commenting on my post – honoured.

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