I first heard the phrase, “Growth masks all problems” when working at Frito-Lay in Dallas. The company had been growing continuously year over year, for decades. But, in 1989-1990 the growth had slowed and all of a sudden everyone was paying attention to areas in the company that had not been closely managed before. The new Frito-Lay CEO, Roger Enrico, who had been transferred from Pespsi-Cola, gave a presentation to the company where he made the statement mentioned above. I never forgot it. For the next two years after Roger took over, it was one area after another that came under the microscope until he’d found more than $100 million dollars of wasteful spending that had been masked and looked over because the overall top-line numbers of the business were growing. When growth stops, that’s when the problems become evident. It’s what is also happening in the world around us. Growth in our economy stopped and the next thing we know, we have problems all around us that didn’t seem to be there before. But, the question needs to be asked, were they there before and just being masked and now we are finally seeing them? Don’t get me wrong, I love growth. Growth is where the fun is and we all have to aspire to grow our businesses, or we will wither and dry up. And yes, with growth we can still not overlook, or sweep under the carpet the problems that are being masked. It’s not easy to do both, but if we are responsible leaders and stewards, it is our job to be done.
What problems did we have before that were masked because we were busy, flourishing, taking on new assignments, jobs, projects and everything was clicking into place? What problems are we seeing now, or have seen over the past 18 months, that we need to take care of before we return to growth mode? There is hard, organizational and introspective work that we all have to do to be sure that we are ready for growth and also ready for when the growth is not there. Jesus spoke bluntly about the need to prune for growth to occur. Maybe that is what He is asking from us today.
Reference: John 15:2 (New Living Translation)