Those fish are all going to die. That is what happens when there are too many fish in the fish bowl…they die. Plain and simple, there is not enough water…not enough space. It is a capacity problem. The environment is not sustainable.

Organizations are similar to a fish bowl in terms of capacity. They need enough fish to have a healthy community. We need enough work to maintain a stimulating challenge. However, too much work moves an organization beyond healthy challenge in to a dysfunctional death spiral. Too many fish in the bowl.

When organizations grow it is important to include solid thinking with regard to capacity. The growth can be a directive or goal. The growth can be a response to a technological or regulatory change. But growth requires sufficient capacity. When you get more fish…you need to get a bigger bowl.

Sometimes we need to get a bigger bowl and keep the project in house. Other times we need to find an additional bowl—and fish—we can work with and add their capacity to ours. A key question to ask is: Do you have the internal capacity to handle the activity? Is it sustainable?

In either case, before you take on a new project or embrace a new responsibility – make sure you have enough room in your bowl.

This is part 3 of 4 in the series In-House or Outhouse.

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