Balancing the Three Unavoidable Zones of Business Growth


The Challenge Defined:

Every company goes through an inevitable evolution, and within each stage of growth there are three unavoidable zones a company will experience. We refer to these zones as the Preparation Zone, the Performance Zone, and the Pressure Zone.

As you can see from the first image in the graphic, a healthy company will spend approximately 20% of its time in the Preparation Zone. This is all about being intentional about planning and finetuning your processes. If this is done well, you can expect your business to spend as much as 70% of its psychic energy and time within the Performance Zone. This is the productive zone. But no matter how well you’re handling the preparation and performance, plan to spend 10% of your energy in the Pressure Zone, the natural and unavoidable result of growing your business and expanding your line of products or services. 

As you look at the more dysfunctional versions of this story, you can see what happens in a “sick” company. Less time is spent preparing for success. The added pressure detracts from your ability to produce and perform. At its worst, your performance declines precipitously as you and the company are overwhelmed with crises and pressure, despite a last-ditch effort to prepare and plan just a little bit better. 

The percentages are approximations of course but, in my experience, the general ratios are right on the nose. Inadequate preparation and performance problems open the door to overwhelming and destabilizing pressure. Your company will not survive it, and no doubt you’ll struggle personally as well.

Don’t assume high levels of pressure and stress “come with the job.” Chances are you can reduce those levels by developing good processes and carrying them out effectively. 

Critical Questions:

  • Which of these three models best defines your company? What specific numbers would you assign to the three zones?
  • What are the performance issues in your company that are or could be causing the company to be overwhelmed by pressure? 
  • Are you okay with the level of stress you experience personally in leading your company?

Why This Challenge Must Be Resolved: 

If these modes are not in the proper proportion, the stress and pressure will drive out your best people and overwhelm your company’s ability to function. 

Need help with this topic or leadership coaching? Contact Mission Critical Teams.