At first glance, this stage, Ready to Expand, may seem to be similar to the previous stage, Has Some Customers. Adding customers clearly requires expansion of many activities to sufficiently fulfill orders and satisfy customers on an ongoing basis. The articles included in that stage were focused on the customer and other external issues. Previous stages had, for the most part, focused on internal company issues. This stage, Ready to Expand, returns the focus to internal issues.
Although internal expansion involves a considerable amount of doing “more of the same”, it also requires some significant departures from past practices. Those departures can easily take individuals out of their comfort zone. Change is always difficult. Embracing change is such a critical issue that it is one of the fundamental business principles described in this collection. It is Principle Six: Promote and Maintain a Positive Response to Change. Although most employees will cerebrally accept the fact that change is enviable and is in the best interest of the company, they may feel, but not share, the notion that other people and their assigned tasks should change, but not theirs. Splitting responsibility to accommodate increased volumes, the implementation of processes, or the mere presence of many new people may be unnerving. Couple these factors with the new, interrupt driven nature of dealing with customer requests, and the elements are in-place for increased frustration and anxiety.
Senior management, especially the CEO, caught up in their own need to change, may be unaware of the impacts expansion has on virtually every other aspect of the company. Something as simple as the loss of ability to quickly pull the right people together to address a problem and develop a solution can be lost. With more people sharing responsibilities, each with their own priorities, it will be necessary to begin to schedule meetings instead of the past, quick, ad hoc get-togethers. Finally, individuals that have excelled in their positions in the past, may no longer be equipped for a new expanded role. Classic examples include promoting a star developer or sales rep to a managerial position and asking an entrepreneur to become the CEO of the larger organization. In these and many other cases, the disconnect occurs because the highly successful people who have built their success on “doing” are now asked to manage others and not “do” themselves. Unfortunately, the alternative of bringing in managers is often met with resistance. With the insertion of a new manager, no matter how competent or how obviously needed, the current staff often feels that they were demoted due to the new layer of management. The compromise of simply keeping the organization flat, which seems to be the rage today, often results in span of control issues and markedly worse communications.
The issues discussed above, plus many more, are captured in the articles associated with this stage. Every growing enterprise will need to address many of these issues. Even the single person company that must balance the many demands placed on them will need to expand.