Monday, August 06, 2007
The world as we see today is plagued by a number of problems. We have people, population, pollution, poverty as the chief concerns of all major nations of the world, India is no different. At the same time we are witness to what some may call phenomenal growth and advancements in almost all frontiers of social concern and significance. Economies around the world are strengthening, technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and the buying power of people is increasing without constraints. The minor fears of the world evolving into a society devoid of cultural and ethical values are largely unfounded. So, how can we explain the various troubles that are dominant even in this expanding growth environment?
Let us try to solve this puzzle by taking a scaled down example of the world (or a nation like India). Consider a company which has emerged as a major player in some advancing sector of a growth oriented industry, let us call this company X (you could as well like to call it Apple, Google, DELL, etc. because the story is not too different). Now, when X started off as a small business venture, just beginning to surface up, showing small sales (but huge growth rates), the managers at X got a bit dizzy with the ‘alarming’ growth rates. They tried to improve their infrastructure but at the same time had to maintain sufficient liquidity so in short it was hard time playing the balancing game. Sales figures rocketed to unimaginable heights, revenue flowed in uncontrolled, workforce had to be increased exponentially, growth became a really ‘too hot to handle’ commodity. Largely unnoticed, the company X became such a big firm that some sections of the company always had troubles. Asking the planners of X to slow down on the growth rate was unquestionable but something had to be done, and something was done in the end. So, the question is what was done and what should be done when you are faced with a growth epidemic? Apple met the growth crisis by siphoning the revenues into new projects, innovations and facilities. Google was (and is) growing at such a fast pace that it had to ask its engineers to STOP INNOVATING and instead channel the energy and resources to make the existing products more efficient. DELL had to segregate the company into smaller, manageable sections so that the accumulative growth may be sustained while dealing with growth scattered around in smaller packages would be an easier task.
As you can see, there is no standard mechanism to fix this problem. But the first step towards solving any problem is to acknowledge that the problem exists. The fallacy that growth is always good has to be challenged soon. The solution may not necessarily lie in curbing the growth deliberately but rather finding out means of controlling it at will.