Aneta Key was interviewed on Cloudflare’s Strategy Spotlight where they discuss how to navigate growth, change, and uncertainty to rapidly scale.
How to navigate growth is a fundamental question that underpins many of my clients’ corporate priorities, though it comes in different flavors. For example, leaders address:
- How to chart a growth strategy, align around it, and put it in place
- How to keep everyone pulling in the same direction in an organization growing in size and complexity
- How to improve operational excellence after a rapid growth phase
- How to scale operations throughout digital transformation
- How to enable growth through leadership capability building
In March 2021 I was interviewed LIVE on the Strategy Spotlight segment of Cloudflare.tv discussing scaling teams and organizations at hyper-growth companies. It was a fun conversation mixing pragmatic advice for leaders and teams with explicit definitions and geeky humor on distributed/diverse teams.
Watch the full interview, Strategy Spotlight: Scaling Best Practices, on Aedeapartners.com.
Xavier Lederer shares an evergreen post from his company blog that explains why your management style and communication needs must change as your company grows, and how it can hinder growth if you don’t.
“My company has great growth potential, but I am so stuck in the damn dailies, I can’t find time to work on my business. And my team, they just don’t seem to be pulling in the same direction. I have a clear vision of our future, but they are just not executing.” sighed the 55-years old CEO of this mid-market manufacturing company. He started his company 15 years and successfully grew it – but over the past few years, growth had stalled. His efforts to re-boot his growth engine have failed as well. In short, he felt stuck. How could he un-stuck himself?
His plan was simple: grow the company and then sell it in 5 years. For him, the next step seemed obvious: he needed to hire a new salesperson.
“What happened to the last sales guy?” I asked naively.
“He left! I can’t find someone who will stick with us long enough to have an impact. The same happened to the sales guy before him. I don’t understand this new generation; they have no loyalty.”
Like many other CEOs he identified and focused on symptoms, rather than on the root cause of his company’s issues. His company had outgrown his management approach.
Complexity increases faster than size.
As your company grows, it adds more employees and therefore more complexity. When you started in your garage people management and internal communication was very efficient: your leadership team (of one) was perfectly aligned on strategy priorities, communication was seamless from strategy to execution, and customer feedback went straight from the sales team (i.e. you) to the product development team (you as well). Then you hired a couple of people, and complexity increased: you needed to divvy up work, make decisions together, follow up on other people’s work,… Complexity increased much faster than your team size: When your team went from 3 to 4 people (+33% increase in team size) your complexity doubled!
The larger the team size, the more complex its management. Managing complexity is a challenge – but the biggest challenge is to regularly adjust your management approach to increasing complexity.
Key points include:
- Complexity increases faster than size
- Management approaches for each stage of growth
- Roadblocks to growth
Read the full article, My Growth Engine Has Stalled! Where Do I Go From Here? on ambrosegrowth.com.
In this article, Dan Markovitz identifies the problem with striving to be on the leading edge and why focusing on achieving lean operations is a better strategy.
Don’t be seduced by the siren song of the leading edge. While it’s a nice concept, it’s not nicknamed “the bleeding edge” for nothing. All too often, companies that strive for first mover advantage bleed their products—or their entire organization—to death.
Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis’s seminal study of 500 brands in 50 product categories reveals that almost half of market pioneers fail. In fact, the greatest long-term success belongs to companies that enter a market and become leaders about 13 years after these first movers. MITS introduced the first personal computer in 1975. Bell Labs brought out the first color TV in 1929. 3M had the first copy machine in 1950. Good luck finding any of those products today.
In follow-up work, Tellis shows that even now there’s little evidence to support the idea of first mover advantage: MySpace and Friendster were ahead of Facebook, Books.com was online before Amazon, AltaVista (among others) beat Google in search, and Sony, Blackberry, and others hit the shelves before Apple in mobile music, smartphones, and tablets. That’s quite a collection of corporate carcasses.
Forget about the leading edge. Instead, focus on becoming faster and more nimble, so that you can get to the head of the market quickly, when the timing is right. That means eliminating the bureaucratic barnacles that encrust so many organizations. Here are a few areas that are probably creating lethal operational drag on the corporate ship.
Key points in this article include:
- The hoshin kanri solution
- Assessing the skills and traits
- Misaligned decision rights
Read the full article, Want To Be On The Leading Edge? Forget About It., on Markovitzconsulting.com
Geoff Wilson gets straight to the point with some tough love in this article by asking if you to make sure your strategy inspires.
The possibilities are endless. Some might say that the sole purpose is to ‘enhance shareholder value.’ I’d argue that this old trope is no longer the gold standard. Some adhere to the stakeholder model…which might be closer. Regardless of the ‘concept,’ a given business strategy has to appeal to a lot of people.
Strategy, inasmuch as it deals with things that are less certain and immediate, is an argument. It’s an argument formed from assumptions that are (or should be) formed from knowable facts and less knowable (but educated) estimates.
But, something tends to happen on the way to building business strategies that derails one of the most important imperatives. We lose the power of inspiration. Usually, we lose it when the hardcore management nerds get ahold of the strategic planning and implementation ‘ecosystem’ and start over whelming the organization with jargon, tools, and really smart pablum.
Read the full article, Are your people uninspired? Maybe it’s time to hang the DJ., on the Wilson Growth Partners website.