Every growing organization hits it sooner or later. ……. The Wall.
Take these guys: “We started out and had this really neat idea that was just lying there waiting for someone to see it. We got the capital together, hired some people and made a mad dash to bring the product to market. And it worked!!! Money started to role in. More people were hired, and the plant was expanded. Had to build on to the office because we ran out of room. For about 10 years things were going great. Then it happened.
For some reason revenue leveled off, then declined. So did profit, almost dollar for dollar with revenue. First we thought it was the economy (the most often used excuse), then it was new competition. Maybe it was Frank; he never has been a very good marketing person. No, it was the commitment of the staff. They used to work a lot harder when we first started out, and they had gotten fat and lazy, and they’d gotten a little overconfident maybe. Better shake things up, and get everybody back on track. Let’s do some training; that will do it.
We’ve got good people- my brother and I started this thing in our garage after all. We had really done well for ten years, but for some reason, the engine doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders. NO matter what we try, and we work really hard at trying, nothing seems to work.”
The “wall” is that place of organizational performance when the way things are, is different from the way things need to be, and we don’t know what to do differently. The common response is to talk about “what got us here” and re-double our efforts, doing the same things. And as you may know, insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. It occurs when reality changes and the organization does not respond to it properly. What this means pragmatically is that the organizational thinking that got you where you are, IS NO LONGER VALID; it has outgrown its usefulness. You have hit the wall. NO matter how many times you re-double your efforts, doing the same old things, it won’t do you any good.
Things must, dare I say it, ch-ch-change!!!
Someone once said that we hate change and at the end of the day what we really want is for things to stay the same…… and get better.
Ain’t it the truth? The fact is the change we fear is the change of growth. And it is necessary for our long term health, both as individuals and as organisms. Now, it’s also true that not all change is growth, but it is true that all growth requires change. I like to call it transformation, because that’s what it is.
As any person or organization ages, it must change and adapt to stay healthy. It must transform. I tell individuals that I work with that as they get older they need to seek ways of making money with their head more than their body. Executives rely on the fact that they can work all night and show up relatively fresh for the presentation when they’re in their 20’s or 30’s. Or they could take on most of the projects and oversee everyone personally to make sure things got done. But as they age they need to work smarter to work harder and focus on developing people and systems that exponentially improve things, so that they can get the best return on the wisdom they’ve accumulated as they grow older.
Organizations are the same. Competition enters the market, economies evolve, methods come along, technology is rapidly progressing, and entire buildings are being blown to bits. Things are changing. We need to transform (become new and different) as well, without changing our core. We need to maintain a sure compass of principals as we stimulate progress towards what needs to change about our form, or products or methods; this is the transformation process.
It is essential to transform; we will die (figuratively) if we don’t.
About the book: “Good to Great- Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”, by Jim Collins-
Please read the book. The great thing about what Jim and his passionate group of people have done and continue to pursue is that, as Detective Sgt Friday on Dragnet would say: “Just give me the facts ma’am.”
Collins and his team focus exclusively on empirical evidence in their study, in short, they study the successful companies that made the leap and just report the facts. The beauty of this approach is there is no theory. It’s just true.
You can reach me at 651-492-8540 or. The first hour of my time with you is free. Contact me today, and we’ll get started.
Jeffrey A Pelletier