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Growing Pains: Managing the Explosion

Managing the Explosion

July was an intense month. I was gone to Spain on business for 2 weeks (pictures soon). While I was gone, Peter was holding down the fort with a lot of new work, new clients and new team members. Some great successes and some unpleasant lessons.

The question at hand: how to manage quick growth? It’s a bit of a balancing act. Our recent conclusion (not an answer because we don’t actually know yet): you can’t grow constantly. Sometimes you need to purposefully create a short plateau so that you can regroup and organize the team to handle the next round of challenges. If you don’t, the odds are that some important things will fall through the cracks. I thought I would share a conversation with a very close friend of mine, who is also a CEO running an exploding company.

On July 31st in the late afternoon on AIM:

Shane Pearlman
I’m listening

My Good Friend
you’re putting too much on top of untested systems
it’s one thing to build a system, test it, fix what’s broken, test again, and then expand
it’s another to build a system at the same time that you expand
you can’t do it
you’ve been trying, and it clearly doesn’t work

Shane Pearlman

I concluded the same thing this weekend
We are going to be extremely careful accepting new customers for a little while so that we can get a better grasp on our growth. Peter agreed this morning.

My Good Friend

that’s good
that’s a step

Shane Pearlman
how have you guys been handling that
I know how cautious you have been choosing where to place your resources

My Good Friend
we’re at the first stages of growth to the next level

this round will probably be four hires
then we pause for a little while
ingest the new meat
take on more responsibility
and then grow again
probably then with a larger group
maybe six
remember this: you can never be outnumbered

Shane Pearlman
you mean between the core and the periphery?

My Good Friend
there are four types of employees
green, ingested, core, and senior management
where senior management is core+

Shane Pearlman

My Good Friend
green employees can never outnumber ingested+core+senior management
and I don’t think green+ingested can outnumber core+senior management, either
it has nothing to do with seniority within the organization and everything to do with how ingrained they are in the culture

Shane Pearlman
ingested means capable but not culturaly integrated or capable and culturally integrated but not putting the business as a life priority?

My Good Friend
ingested means capable and culturally integrated to an extent… they know the core values and know the culture, but they can’t create it or instill it in others

We ended the conversation at that point as he had to leave. I truly look forward to digging deeper into my friend’s advice, but for now, I’ll reflect upon our own experience.

The simple wisdom here states that managing growth for any company is just as important as managing projects. Every company wants growth, few get it, even fewer actually know how to deal with it when it happens. Thoughtful, organized, well planned growth cycles are the key to truly harnessing expansion in a way that provides a sustainable foundation on which to, well, keep growing, which is the goal really. As our team continues to expand and take on new projects, this will certainly be one of the key factors that we will constantly be aware about.