Limiting Growth was One of Our Best Decisions

When we started Seiche, we intentionally chose to limit growth.



Tom Elko, Seiche’s co-founder and principal, and I wove “limiting growth” into the founding values of the company. “We reject growth for growth’s sake,” we wrote, during an early retreat. “Growth is only undertaken in service of impact. Anything more is toxic.”

We knew that limiting growth was an odd value to embed within a company. 45 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years, so why place additional obstacles in an already obstacle-heavy path?

For us, it was simply the truth. Growth poses opportunities, but it also comes with costs. Both Tom and I witnessed the costs of explosive, poorly managed growth in previous work. It burned through financial capital with limited accountability, it led to mission drift and it took a heavy toll on the physical, emotional, and mental health of teams.

We knew we didn’t want this for ourselves, nor did we want it for our people, for our clients, or our communities. Instead, we chose to grow with intention.

We do this by centering relationships. At heart, our team members are organizers – we meet our clients where they are, we listen, and we celebrate or we gently challenge their perspectives. Our clients also challenge us; as we shape them, they shape us. Our growth is managed in the context of a larger ecosystem – if and when we grow, it’s in deep service to our clients, as well as to our communities.

With our clients, we also manage growth:

  • When we develop solutions for our clients, we focus on solutions that are right-sized for their organizations. When we recommend growth, we work with clients to build the systems and structures to metabolize growth, rather than quickly burn through the finances and the people working to make that growth possible.
  • When we identify metrics for projects, we prioritize depth over volume, meaningful engagement and action over massive reach. In communications projects, this looks like tightly tailoring content to specific audiences, and re-engaging with those who demonstrate interest. In adaptive strategy projects, we help our clients navigate the tensions of depth and growth, supporting ongoing learning in service of clear, accountable action.
  • We invest in the growth of our company only when it is clear that our growth supports our clients’ ability to make meaningful change. We ask our clients if growth was supportive to them, in addition to asking whether it is supportive to us. We are of our communities, and growth is best with consent, celebration, and mutual support.

The other side of growth for growth’s sake is beauty. It’s resilience. It’s networks. It’s possibility. That’s what we envisioned when Seiche “limited growth.” We’re grateful that we took this stance so early in our company’s formation. It’s proved foundational to how we approach change.

We want to hear from you.