Is your company’s management ready for growth?

One popular strategy for companies is a growth strategy that focuses on sales (revenues), or market share (SOM), or assets, or profits.   Regardless of which growth strategy/target one picks, often overlooked is; are the management and its structure ready and prepared for growth.

Typically companies go from a very simple organizational structure to some form of corporate or divisional or strategical business units (SBUs).

Start –ups or small size companies are typically managed by one or two people (entrepreneurs) who have the vision and passion to get things started. The environment is usually flexible, dynamic, has little in the way of processes or procedures and is freewheeling. 

Unfortunately when the company hits a certain revenue size or development phases, the entrepreneurial skills become secondary or more bluntly, other skills are needed to move into the next growth stage.

Skills like marketing, sales, or financial become critical for the company to grow.  Again it is more often than not that the original founder does not have the required skills for the next phase.

Here are examples what some call “crisis of leadership” that happens every day:

A small software company was started by a very talented engineer and their initial revenues came from personal referrals, which helped the company grow to a certain point , then the stall point happened and no one seem to know what the problem was. After close to a year of stagnation, a consult concluded that this company was not doing any marketing what so ever, mainly because the founder believed “if we make it, they will come”.  Eventually the founder hired a marketing person and gave her ownership not only for creating some marketing programs but developing the next wave of market development documents.

Another example is about an extremely passionate person who started a charity organization and again grew it to a certain “donation level” and once again things came to a halt. In this case the founder tried to do everything from fund raising to printing the next newsletter. The problem was no one knew who was responsible for what and what their contribution was, so most just sat back and waited for the founder to take action.  Again, objectives and goals were personal and not for the overall benefit of the organization.

A third example is about Larry Ellison and Oracle.  Larry Ellison has great vision and a passion for his company, but Oracle also hit a stall point, but in this case Larry saw he was part of the problem and hired some financial experts and he focused on the next innovations.

For those at the top, here are some things to avoid according to J. Hamm “Why Entrepreneurs don’t scale” Harvard Business Review.

1-Don’t be to loyal to your comrades

2-Don’t become too task and detailed oriented

3-Be careful of single – mindedness,   because this can develop into tunnel vision

4-Don’t work in isolation, leaders lead, do not hide

If you see any or all of the above situations within your company, I would suggest seeking some outside advice in order to get a third party’s point of view.

Remember, a management strategy is just as critical as having a product or service strategy.  Not having a strategy is like sailing a ship without a rudder.

RHL  10/13/11

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