Expansion: Growth, Scale, and Maturity
In the world of entrepreneurship there seems to be only one question that investors really want answered. How quickly can you scale? Undoubtedly this is an important puzzle to solve but there is more to it than speed. To approach this from another angle we should discuss tomatoes, or to say more generally food. As technology has progressed we’ve gained the ability to not only grow more tomatoes with less manual labor but we can also grow bigger ones.
The miracles of science have made not only scale of production but massive growth of the produce, and the agricultural industry possible. But at what cost? To grow more tomatoes we’ve had to industrialize farming which has led to soil degradation and water shortages. To grow bigger tomatoes, we’ve had to genetically modify the plants that bear them. On the whole though, it has enabled us to feed a greater number of people at lower labor costs availing untold freedoms for people to pursue their passions.
This is not to say that expansions is bad, on the contrary it is a necessary and inevitable part of any progression. The ancient philosopher Heraclitus famously posits “Change is the only constant in life.” which is no less true today than when it was first told in 500BC. If we are not moving forward we are indeed fading away. So the concern of the investors is well founded, but we should always but when asking about speed we should also ask about quality.
In business the quality of growth me looked at as a development of something that adds more than commercial or profit value, but a social or intellectual good is created as well. If our mission is to sell tomatoes but they are low in nutritional value or have poor taste then we are doing no good to sell millions of them. Just as well if we make the best tasting rich tomatoes that only feed a single person, there is not much to be gained there either.
I’m always thinking about the balance of things and when I think about how to grow Citizens Of Culture, I think not only of how big I want it to but the shape I want it to take, shouldn’t everyone? If we are all growing our careers and our businesses shouldn’t we inquire as to if bigger is always better? But not only in our work but in our personal life as well, if more money begets only more problems then we should always seek to understand what we are hoping to do with the money we earn. And it is most important to ask these questions before we realize our growth.
As with any type of growth it is possible to do it unevenly. While we imagine that getting bigger and stronger is better, but simply gaining weight is not, nor is a tumor so proportional growth matters as well. This is not just for tomatoes but for their distribution we could end up with to many in one area and not enough in the other. Food like, wealth is best served when dispersed with some sort of equality.
Humanity itself must ask these questions as well, with our advantage in agriculture we’ve our population has multiplied significantly, while a sign of the success of our young species in relation to the planet there are other things we must consider. Balance. What does balance look like for humans on earth, and what shape will it take. A child, as our species is must not only focus on growing strong but maturing into a good person, humanity must also. Some sociologists have spoken about the maturation of our species, not as it pertains to evolution but to our awareness and responsibility to each other and our planet.
Since I tend to wander in my thoughts there is no doubt in my mind that we will fail at addressing all these concepts this month, but it is my sincere hope that we can address at least the important ones.
Thank you for reading,