3 Reasons Organizations Stop Growing

*culture *systems *team Dec 08, 2021

At CourageToLead.com we teach our Gears of Growth Framework as THE primary tool to help leaders find the problem areas (and potential places) in their organization. Both are important.

Many leaders tell us, "I thought you were supposed to play to your strengths..."

They're right. You certainly are.

But organizations don't wind down because of their STRONG areas; they plateau or decline because of their weak areas. 


There are THREE gears, all interconnected, which affect EVERY organization: culture, team, systems.

And they work like the gears in your motor.

Any cog— or gear— in your car’s engine can keep the entire vehicle at a standstill. Or cause it to move slower.

(When the gears all work in alignment and move in sync, the results are fabulous!)

The result is that you go farther, faster, with less effort…

In the same way, there are three gears in your organization. We call them the Organizational Gears of Growth. 

They each work together, and they’re equally important. 

Again, they are— 

  • Culture = the PLACE you work
  • Team = the PEOPLE you work with 
  • Systems = the PROCESSES you use to get things done



Culture = the PLACE you work. The environment. The mood. The tone.

Certain environments are conducive to life and growth, and others create death and decay. 

A few things to remember about culture— 

  • The leader is the chief cultural architect. 
  • And, culture happens either by design or by default.
  • Culture includes both your vision (WHAT YOU’RE DOING) as well as your values (THE TONE & TEMPERAMENT of how you do things). 



Team = the PEOPLE with whom you work.

You’ll never achieve the biggest dreams in your heart without a healthy— and helpful team. Nothing can stop a team that’s aligned behind a common mission AND is committed to both each other as well as the goal before them.

A few things to remember about team— 

  • The best coaches are the best recruiters. They constantly scout new talent (see module 2 of The Killer Teams Framework for more on this concept.)
  • The talent to take you where you want to go will likely need to be asked to join you. They are the leaders who can help you scale your organization to two or three times your current size. The challenge, then, is aligning those team members together around a common mission to work together and synergize their efforts. 

The soil for a healthy team requires three primary nutrients (This concept almost blurs into culture. 

Think about it like this, though. You can plant the same seed in various places and get a different result. The same seed will respond differently if it’s planted on rocky soil, if it’s planted among weeds and thorns, if it’s planted where it can be trampled or removed, or it it’s planned in good ground (see Mark 4). The soil matters as much— or even more— than the seed. 

Here’s what’s required for good soil for a great team to grow: 

  • Mutual devotion = the team members are committed to the same things AND to each other
  • Proximity = the team members MUST spend time together 
  • Consistency = the team members must be together regularly 

(We mention each of these briefly in video 1 / module 1 of The Killer Teams Framework, “How to Have Meetings That Matter.” There, you’ll see that “exchanging information” isn’t necessarily the biggest reason to have meetings at all, although that’s the metric leaders often use to determine whether or not the meeting should occur.)



Systems = the PROCESSES you use to get things done. This is the bridge to move things AND PEOPLE from where they are to where they’re designed to be. 

Helpful systems insure the important things in your organization move from Point A to Point B successfully, repeatedly. 

Structurally, we should automate the things which can be “mechanized,” so that repeating processes get done well with a high level of success. And we should eliminate the things which don’t matter.

Here are a few things to remember about systems— 

  •  We need more than good intentions; we need good systems. That is, process matters.
  •  There are three systems folders every healthy organization requires: 


Folder #1 = Expectations 

Outline what the organization seeks to achieve, and how each team member’s position plays a part in that.  

Folder #2 = Communication 

Every job description and organization chart should be placed here. This distinguishes the “solid lines” of authority on the organization chart from the “dotted lines” of influence.

Furthermore, we can insure that each team member’s job description fulfills parts of the overall organizational objectives. If the company is “doing it,” it must drill down to someone’s responsibility (and authority to handle). And, if it’s not part of the company’s objectives, it may not actually need to be on a job description.

Folder #3 = Proceses 

This folder includes written documentation on everything team members do. Though not part of a job description, this folder outlines how to execute repeating tasks. 

Every single time someone figures out how to do something that’s a repeated process (i.e., it happens two or more times!) it should go into this folder.