28 October 2009

Getting more of what you want - Part 4

In prior posts in this series, we have talked about why organizations frequently face significant challenges in getting more of what they really want -- to make more money tomorrow than they are making today. We have linked this to what we call "making the leap from entrepreneurial to enterprise."

We have also identified the underlying issue as being the loss of that view once held by the entrepreneurial leadership of the firm -- namely, the view that the whole company is one integrated "system" with one unifying goal. Instead, departments and layers of management erode that thinking away into ultimate oblivion in the minds of the entrepreneur.

The question we are facing now, in this post, is: If executives and managers have recognized the negative symptoms in their organization, and they surely have a desire for improvement, what is actually keeping organizational leadership from clearing away the barriers to making more money?

There are really multiple answers to this question, and the true response will -- naturally -- vary from organization to organization. However, consider these as a small sampling:
  • Firms that are already suffering from poor performance -- or performance below management's expectations, at least -- are often so consumed with trying to meet short-term objectives that they do not have time to back away from the details to even consider the "system" as a whole. All of management's time, energy, and way too much money is being consumed in activities like meeting month-end sales goals, expediting production, tracking down late shipments from vendors, or getting late shipments to customers out the door. There is just no time to step back and figure out why everyone is pulling their hair out but profits keep declining.
  • The organization has grown to be so large so fast (say, from 12 up to 55 employees in one year or so) that the entrepreneurial management just can't figure out which "lever to pull" to get the results it wants. What used to be a simple decision now seems overwhelming in complexity.
  • The entrepreneurial leadership has some ideas that might improve the company, but they can't figure out how to come to final decision because it just seems too hard and too complex to figure out the balance between the risks (investment) involved and the rewards (profits) that any given change might bring to the firm.
Consider this: If a small firm has just 5 people working in it, there are 120 different permutations of interactions between those 5 parties. Add a sixth person into the mix and that number jumps to 720 ways they might interact. If you get to 10 employees, the permutations jump to more than 3,000,000; and with 15 the number is 1,307,674,368,000. Of course, this doesn't even count interactions with customers and vendors.

It's no wonder that entrepreneurs with great ideas and great companies can readily be overwhelmed by apparent complexity as their organizations grow. No wonder the once confident entrepreneur-executive can no longer which "lever to pull" to get the result he or she desires.

Fortunately, the number of things that any executive or manager needs to know in order to manage effectively is a very small number. I'll tell you just how small in the next post.

[To be continued...]

Contact me!


No comments: