One of the most feared words in modern culture is the word cancer. Nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some form or another. If someone has been fortunate enough to not battle this awful disease, they most likely have had a friend or loved one have deal with it in some capacity or another. It is ridiculously prevalent and an abhorrent plague on humanity.

But what about your organization? Is it possible for something similar in nature to begin to fester and grow in your company? One of the best ways to beat cancer is to catch it early in its development and the same is true for your organization. A biological fact is that healthy things grow. They tend to grow at a proportional rate to one another, based on function and purpose. Cancer cells grow as well, but typically at a disproportional rate and actually squeeze out the healthy cells.

As businesses, we want to have growth but at what cost? If we disproportionately try to grow things, we are squeezing out the opportunity for healthy things to exist and stand the risk of developing organizational cancer. If we want things to grow, we should instead be focusing on nurturing the health of these areas in order for them to grow proportionally according to function and purpose. Like I said, healthy things grow…it’s a biotic principle.

Here are some keys to ensuring you’re nurturing health over mere growth:

  • Values over money – I know this may cause many of you clinch your jaw a bit tighter. This isn’t a call to abandon fiscal responsibility or quality financial projections. It is a call to align your financial decisions with the values you have defined for your organization.
  • Strive for balance – There will always be certain areas in your organization that will have a larger impact than others. Just don’t let those areas become over inflated because of their “market share” within your company operations. It can be tempting to feed the biggest animal, especially if it’s making money. Refer to the above tip!
  • Have equal representation at the table – When strategic decisions are made (marketing, operational, etc.) make sure that all parties are included in the decision making process. Don’t just have the COO at the table for operational decisions. How will those operational changes affect HR, IT or the administrative functions within your organization?
  • Have honest conversations – What is the equivalent of “smoking” in your organization? Look for things that have become habit that can have cancer-causing affects on your organization. It could be a leftover habit from former leadership or an antiquated vision that has since changed. Listen to people if they are saying there seems to be a contradiction in what is said and what is lived out.

What are some other things that you can point out that can be carcinogenic within organizations?