Small, sometimes entrepreneurial companies (small and entrepreneurial are not the same) enjoy ways of working that are fit for their size. People often wear multiple hats, decision making can be fast, people’s commitment and engagement can be high (not necessarily, but very often the case) and many other characteristics that may shape a market (and organizational) advantage.
As they grow, the biggest challenge is to maintain agility whilst increasing complexity. Without critical thinking, the small company, growing towards a bigger one, will soon start to replicate ‘big company processes and systems’ because they are the mirror and the (false) aspiration. In my consulting work, I see the growing frustration of people losing the benefits of the agility every day.
The worst case is in the middle: growing to a stage not big enough to benefit from economies of scale and a ‘big company’ operating system, and not small enough to remain agile and (potentially) entrepreneurial. The middle is bad territory, a Bermuda Triangle space, a recipe for the worst of all worlds.
The transitional stages (journey) need to be crafted with care. Extrapolations from the past should be avoided. A company ‘in transition’ is at a very delicate stage, possibly very rich. The leadership for the transition may be different from the one for other stages. Travellers and Cartographers may be more important than Managers and Marketers.
The journey cannot be blind. Early warning signs of ’big company syndrome’ need to be taken seriously. People should be vigilant. The trouble is, growth is contagious and exciting. Critical thinking may be in short supply. Suddenly you may have ‘a small version of a big company’. And this is a bad situation.
A growth stage has choices: aspire to a carbon copy of the big company or reinvent, redefine, protect the agility and entrepreneurial spirit and be different. Once the cloning of ‘big company’ has started, there is no way back.
Leading growth is an extraordinary skill. Critical thinkers must be welcome at any cost.
Watch our Feed Forward Webinar Series, which looks at the need to manage our organizations differently in these Covid times.
These 5 webinars see Dr Leandro Herrero and his team of organizational architects, debunk uncontested assumptions and uncover the alternatives, whilst considering why this is even more relevant today in the current exceptional environment.
We have been running enterprises with very tired concepts of empowerment, ownership, accountability and other little challenged pillars. The truth is that there is mythology embedded in all those concepts. Old traditional management thinking will be unsuitable to win in the post Covid19 scenario.
- The Myths of Change
- Can you put your organization through an MRI?
- The Myths of Company Culture
- The Myths of Management
- High tech, high touch in the digitalization era