The Invisible Velvet Glove On The Spigot of Growth

Whenever an organization hits the wall in terms of growth, or worse yet, growth starts to decline, everyone is quick to point to the external environment. Completion has increased, the regulatory environment has shifted, our customer base is fickle, etc. While some of these may be true, I submit to you that it is more of the internal environment that causes an organization to stop growing. Those “invisible velvet gloves”, broken processes, lack of people’s sense of urgency, no team work, etc. are more in control of your “the spigot of growth” than you can imagine. This largely has to do with two important factors. The first, there most likely is not a strong positive culture of growth in the organization. And, second, there most likely isn’t a well-developed and articulated growth/referral development plan to follow.

So how do you know if you had a strong or weak culture of growth working in your organization? There are few ways to complete a diagnostic exam. From a quantitative perspective, we all have KPI (Key Performance Indicators) in place in our organizations. Those dash-board indicators that allow you to measure the “vital signs” of how your organization is doing. An example would be the referral inquiry to admission conversion rate. A low conversion rate (70% and below) suggest that those “invisible velvet gloves” are at work turning your spigot of growth off. Lack of creative problem solving, fractured staffing, etc. are some of those “invisible velvet gloves” at work to turn your growth spigot off. For conversion rates of 71% or higher, there are usually internal factors such as a pro-active problem solving, working as a team, a clear shape focus, etc. that helps keep the spigot of growth open. It is important that you understand how open or closed your growth spigot is.

From a qualitative perspective, one of the best ways to get a feel for your culture of growth and whether the “invisible velvet glove” is opening or closing your growth spigot is to look at your Google, Yahoo or Yelp on-line reviews. In his book “Good To Great” Jim Collins talks about embracing the brutal facts before true change can occur. Taking to heart reviews that your customers write about you will give you another piece of data to help you size up your culture of growth. Today’s social media can give you instant feedback on your organization.

Understanding what type of culture you have in your organization directly relates to whether the invisible velvet gloves working in your organization are helping you serve more people and grow. Once you understand your current reality, you can drill down and put into place improvement initiatives targeted at strengthening your culture and opening your spigot of growth.

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