Recently, I began teaser introductions to the following five topics. I believe that each topic is a key issue for growing your company from 15 to 50 and then to 150 people or more. So, here is my take on that Holy Grail, on what companies and my clients need to focus:
Know Thy Self
Look at Your People
Today, let’s look at #4, Processes/Systems. I have found three issues recurring so often they feel like rights of passage.
My experience with companies at the 15 and 50 stage is that systematic anything is pretty rare. These companies have either started out with a founder who has an exceptional ability to sell or produce product or create excitement and service relationships (occasionally all three), or there are long standing employees who know the business as it is and keep a great deal in their heads.
One of the issues that looms largest for a company wanting to grow to the 50 employee level is translating company knowledge to others and making this knowledge replicable (meaning that it can be provided to others without the founder or key employee). The hurdles to move through this no man’s land are usually: Culture, perceived value of processes/systems and some discipline.
Culture of smaller companies is usually one of heroics, someone or some few who do things in a n exceptional manner. Perceived value is either personal or cultural (“I don’t need it, why can’t they just do it too”). Discipline raises its ugly head when priorities are made. Getting started on creating replicable processes and systems usually loses out to “We have business that we have to attend to.”
For 50 employee companies, the two issues that most often come up is failing to develop processes that are appropriate for the size and focus of the existing/near term business and second is the issue of making sure that processes, and the people who use them, actually work/serve the goals everyone has for the business.
At 150 employees companies often come up against issues of complexity vs. the fit of the processes/systems. All too often there is a disconnect between the people being asked to follow the process and who is developing the process. Investing time and resources on acceptance, use and implementation of the process/system is all to often overlooked or minimalized.
So what are the issues you have had to address in adopting/creating and implementing processes and developing systems?