Of all the competing objectives every company faces, three pairs stand out: profitability versus growth, the short term versus the long term, and the whole organization versus the units. In each case, progress on one front usually comes at the expense of progress on the other. The problem, the authors discovered, is not so much that managers don't recognize the tensions; those are all too familiar to anyone who has ever run a business. Rather, it is that managers frequently don't focus on the tension that matters most to their company. In this full-length article, Dominic Dodd and Ken Favaro describe how companies can select the right tension, what traps they may fall into when they focus on one side over the other, and how to escape these traps by managing to the bonds between objectives.
From the December 2006 issue of Harvard Business Review.