two men talking

Open confession. I’ve been procrastinating in beginning the next section of our adventure because I don’t have a lot of answers – I only have a lot of questions. Yet something tells me that I need to keep going because adventures built on answers are far less the subject of myths and legends than adventures built on questions.

For the past couple of months now we’ve been talking about how all living organisms possess eight common characteristics: Organization, Reproduction, Metabolism, Growth and Development, DNA, Change (or response to stimuli), Homeostasis, and Evolution. My hypothesis is, that we can apply the same list of characteristics to organizations as a sort of health check. At my company, Hölmetrics, we empower leaders to create healthy, life-giving places to work. My question is, what does a healthy, life-giving place to work look like? And my answers are contained somewhere in this blog between my ramblings and the insightful comments of y’all.

For the next two weeks we’re supposed to be talking about Growth and Development as a characteristic of a healthy, life-giving workplace, and… I’m stuck. I’m stuck because, in my opinion, and in my experience, we have been looking at this from a completely different angle through a completely different lens for the past, oh I don’t know… say, a thousand years. Throughout my professional career growth and development is something that individuals inside the organization do; it is never been widely understood to be a function of the organization itself. Let me put that another way. I have a professional development budget. I go to conferences. I take a course. I get credentialed. I advance in my career. I grow and I develop. I have worked for many organizations that have spent lots of money on my growth and development. That is our definition of growth and development in corporate culture. It’s L&D. It’s an incentive. It’s a function of human resources. And all of this really is fine and good. I am thankful for the opportunities to grow and learn. I am thankful that my employer and my supervisor believe in my need for continuing education. But, if we as leaders don’t determine a definition for organizational growth and development, if we don’t figure out how to measure it, assess it, track it, quantify it, interpret it, promote it, and obsess over it then our organizations as a whole will not grow or develop. They will indeed do the opposite.

If, as Peter Drucker said, what gets measured gets managed, then not measuring organizational growth and development is the first step to not growing or developing. At best, organizational growth and development is happening by accident. At worst, dedicated leaders are pounding their heads against their boardroom tables unable to understand why their share price is tanking, their quarterly earnings have declined 12% year over year for the past 16 quarters and their board is poised to remove them.

All because we could never wrap our heads around the difference between individual growth and development and organizational growth and development.

And that’s where the rant ends and the inquisitive sky gazing begins because I don’t know either. All I know is that there is a difference, and after spending the past six years of my life immersed in the HR Tech market, I’ve come to realize that the market doesn’t the know the difference either.

– Chad Verity, CEO, Hölmetrics