Growth and development


Growth is an increase in size or number. Development is an increase in ability and desire to satisfy one's own needs and legitimate desires and those of others. A legitimate desire is one for which the satisfaction does not reduce or retards the development of another.

Purposeless objects and systems can grow but cannot develop; only purposeful individuals and systems develop. A rubbish heap grows but does not develop and a person can develop without physically getting larger. Growth does not necessarily imply an increase in value; development does.

Development is an increase in capabilities and competencies, not an increase in attainment. It has less to do with how much one has than with how much one can do with whatever one has: it is more a matter of learning than of earning. Development implies more about quality of life than standard of living.

Because development consists of both a desire and an ability, it cannot be given to or imposed on one person or organization by another. A corporation cannot develop its employees. The only kind of development possible is self-development. However, one person or organization can encourage and facilitate the development of others.

The more developed an individual is, the less he or she is limited by available resources. Thus, the goal of successful organizations is omnicompetence. Omnicompetence connotes power to, implies self-control and to a great extend determines the effectiveness of individuals and teams.

Development is therefore a key to productivity.


Development and value: A company can grow without increasing in value, but it cannot develop without increasing its value.

The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is reflected in the differences between growth and development. Both efficiency and effectiveness are determined relative to one or more ends (goals, objectives or ideals). The value of these objectives is not relevant to the determination of efficiency, but is essential for the determination of effectiveness. The effectiveness of behavior is a function of both its efficiency for one or more outcomes and the values of those outcomes. Science, technology and economics focus primarily on efficiency, not effectiveness.

Hierarchical organizations where decisions are made without consulting those affected by the decisions provide limited developmental opportunities for employees. In the absence of developmental opportunities, the satisfaction one can derive from work is also limited.


Effective development

The need for a more systematic development process poses a significant challenge to many organizations. The problem is that most of the development that occurs in organizations takes the form of on-the-job training coupled with an informal mentoring system.

The effectiveness of this approach depends upon a number of conditions:

  • First, to the extent that the competencies needed at different levels of the organization are not part of a continuum, it will be necessary to supplement job experiences with more formal development opportunities.
  • The second condition needed for on-the-job training and informal mentoring processes to be effective tools for developing, is that the management processes and leadership characteristics currently composing the corporate culture must be the ones that the organization wishes to perpetuate in support of its future strategic direction.

The growing consensus is that this cannot be accomplished solely through on-the-job training and informal mentoring activities.

In today's environment, we see more and more organizations that are driven by competitive pressures for increased productivity strive to rethink organizational design issues with an eye to creating systems to support development and not just growth.


Development methodology

The question - what development method is best - really has no answer unless one specifies the characteristics of the executive and the objectives of the development.

The variety of competencies necessary to perform successfully the executive functions requires individualized, creative, specific, results- and action-oriented approaches.


Effective learning

Any company that aspires to succeed in the tougher business environment must first resolve a basic dilemma: success in the marketplace increasingly depends on learning.

The fact is, more and more jobs - no matter what the title - are taking on the contours of 'knowledge work'. People at all levels of the organization must combine the mastery of some highly specialized technical expertise with the ability to work effectively in teams, form productive relationships with the clients and customers, critically reflect on and then change their own organizational practices. The nuts and bolts of management increasingly consists of guiding and integrating the autonomous but interconnected work of highly skilled people.

The common assumption is that getting people to learn is largely a matter of motivation. When people have the right attitudes and commitment, learning almost automatically follows!

But effective learning is not simply a function of how people feel. It is a reflection of how they think - that is, the cognitive rules or reasoning they use to design and implement their actions (think of these rules as a kind of 'master program' stored in the brain, governing all behavior).

If executives want to learn effectively, they need to reflect critically on their own behavior, identify the ways they often inadvertently contribute to the organization’s problems, and then change how they act. In particular, they must learn how the very way they go about defining and solving problems can be a source of problems in its own right.

By the way. Return on training and development investment is disappointing -most of the time- because executives don’t walk the talk, do not lead by example, do not invest in policies, systems, processes … calling for the desired behavior.

Defensive reasoning - a widespread managerial behavior - can block learning even when the individual commitment is high.


Defenses that block learning

Teaching executives how to reason about their behavior in new and more effective ways breaks down the defenses that block learning. There seems to be a universal human tendency to design one's actions con-sistently according to four basic values: 

  1. To remain in unilateral control
  2. To maximize 'winning' and minimize 'losing'
  3. To suppress negative feelings
  4. To be as 'rational' as possible (by which people mean defining clear objectives and evaluating their behavior in terms of whether or not they have achieved them).

The purpose of those four basic values is to avoid embarrassment or threat, feeling vulnerable or incompetent.


Productive reasoning about human behaviour

Despite the strength of defensive reasoning, people genuinely strive to produce what they intend. They value acting competently. Their self-esteem is intimately tied up with behaving consistently and performing effectively. Companies can use these universal human tendencies to teach executives how to reason in a new way - thus 'reshape' their behavior.

Once companies embark on this learning process, they will discover that the kind of reasoning necessary to reduce and to overcome organizational defenses is the same kind of 'tough reasoning' that underlies the effective use of ideas in strategy, finance, marketing, manufacturing, and other management disciplines. Any sophisticated strategic analysis, for example, depends on collecting valid and reliable data, analyzing it carefully, and constantly testing the inferences drawn from the data. The toughest tests are reserved for the conclusions. Good strategists make sure that their conclusions can withstand all kinds of critical questioning.

So too with productive reasoning about human behavior. The standard of analysis is just as high. Developmental programs no longer need to be based on 'soft' reasoning but should be as analytical and as data-driven as any other management discipline.

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