Growing, Dying, Challenge, Failure and The Business Cycle

Grow or Die. Scary words, right? They speak of challenge and failure. Those words have been floating around this disruptive digital economy for several years. But they have always been part of the business cycle. And those words also motive us to create, and the concept of a constantly evolving cycle should become a permanent part of our thinking rather than something to fear.

So is this concept of growth or death true? In a feature story by Dottie DeHart & Mary Best, on the BedTimes website (yes, there is a business journal for the sleep products industry), they cite business professor Edward Hess‘ book Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses as follows:

“Growth can be good and growth can be bad. Bigger can be good and bigger can be bad. ‘Grow or die’ is a belief that has no basis in scientific research or business reality. When not approached carefully, growth can destroy value as it outstrips a company’s managerial capacity, processes, quality controls, and financial controls, or substantially dilutes customer value propositions.”

From Hess’ academic point of view, he’s spot on since he’s approaching it objectively. There is no basis in a strictly business reality. But I feel regarding creative growth, which is essential to our businesses, the concept is true.

If we don’t surpass our boundaries, stagnation occurs and that causes all kinds of messy things to happen plus it leads to the demise of new ideas and paths to explore. The evidence for this truth is the need to create the “Personal Work” category found in all of our portfolios. It’s also found in the way we perceive ourselves, we are now Storytellers not just Photographers, right? Or maybe we are Producers or Directors.

So use whatever terms you prefer to define the cycle of improvement, but Grow or Die is surely not a concept to be feared, it’s one to be embraced.


Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.

John Welsh is a photographer & storyteller from Philadelphia as well as a director on the National Board of ASMP. His latest challenge, other than writing about himself in the third person, is one of extreme growth and involves figuring what it means to strategize content creation…or die trying.

Share your thoughts