All growth happens naturally. Actually we don’t need anything to start or support growth.

However, what does happen on that natural path, is trial and error. Whenever an error is made, an injury or block can emerge. When that happens, it can be looked at or it can be ignored or dismissed.

Whenever it is ignored or dismissed, it occupies development points. Those points are stored in the unconscious and not available anymore for further growth. When there are no free developments left, growth comes to a halt.

This process happens both in human beings and organizations.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s suppose that someone has 100 development points and that for each development stage he needs 10 additional points. In theory, he would be able to reach stage 10.

But things happen along the way: external and internal hurts, traumas and blocks. External ones are life circumstances like war, drought, famine, illiteracy, poverty, accidents or physical abuse. Internal hurts, traumas or blocks can be: be neglected, diseases, mental trauma or mental abuse. Both external and internal circumstances can be large or small. A war is a major external circumstance, which might lead to a major trauma. A fight between youngsters a minor one, which only causes a minor injury. Being neglected for years as a child can be a major internal circumstance. The fact that his mother picked him up very late from school without alerting anyone, which has never happened before, can cause a minor hurt for a toddler.

Let’s suppose that each minor injury or block costs 1 point and each major hurt or trauma 5 points.

When we start adding them up, we see for example: 5 minor injuries in stage 1 (5 points), 4 minor blocks and 1 trauma in stage 2 (9 points), 2 minor hurts and 1 major block in stage 3 (7 points), 4 small injuries and 1 trauma in stage 4 (9 points), 3 minor hurts and 1 major block in stage 5 (8 points) and 2 minor injuries and 1 larger one during the development to stage 6 (7 points). These are 45 points that are occupied and are not available for growth anymore. In other words, there are only 55 development points left.

This person will never be able to grow to stage 6 because he needs 60 points to do so. He is now in stage 5. Moreover, if he experiences more hurts, he will go back to stage 4 since he doesn’t have enough points to remain in stage 5.

This process of growth and occupation of development points by injuries and blocks applies to both human beings and organizations. If there are too many of them, the flow won’t be optimal and at a certain moment no further development will be possible.

What does this look like in an organization?

Hurts or traumas might be obvious in the case of a fire, a terroristic act or another disaster. However, most of the time it is about minor incidents that accumulate during the growth process.

Some examples: the loss of a major customer or subsidies, the dismissal of an important co-worker, but also changing the target market, logo or location or the acquisition of a family business by an outside management team could cause some kind of injury.

When too many development points are occupied and stored in the undercurrent (which is like an individual’s unconscious), no further growth is possible, no matter how many strategic or innovation sessions are organized or how many promising marketing plans are implemented.

The good news is that these development points are not lost in both individuals and organizations! They are only temporarily occupied till they are released or transformed.

Even better news is that when you approach this releasing process very deliberately, the transformation can even lead to accelerated growth!

Compassion is a crucial element in this process. More details and techniques for liberating development points, are shared in the book The Compassionate Leader.