3 Underestimated Barriers to Rapid Growth

Runners on a parcourse showing Barriers to Rapid Growth

Too Many Leaders Underestimate Barriers to Rapid Growth
Most companies want to rapidly grow revenues and profits.  High growth helps set the stage to dominate market segments, to win big clients, to make strategic investments and to provide opportunities to attract and retain top talent.  High growth, however, also creates additional pressures on the business and the people to consistently deliver at a high quality at high speed.  These pressures are the barriers to rapid growth.

As one CEO put it, “We are trying to build and fly the airplane at the same time, and we’re not even sure where we are going to land the darn plane or who will be aboard when we do.”

Rapid Growth Can Take Many Forms
You may be expanding into new markets, acquiring or merging with another business, developing new products or simply growing the work force to meet increasing demand.  Regardless of the source, smart leaders pay attention to the impact rapid growth can have on your people, processes and culture.

1. People Barriers to Rapid Growth
While the specific challenges rapid growth companies face differ from company to company, almost all rapid growth organizations face acute people pressures.  It is not easy to attract, develop, engage and retain the right people in the right roles fast enough to meet high demand.  Smart leaders get ahead of the curve and create talent management plans that align with the growth plans for the business by answering some fundamental questions early on:

  • How many people do we need and at what pace to meet growth targets? In what roles?  With what skills?  Which roles and skills matter most?
  • How will we effectively assimilate new hires into our existing culture?
  • Will our current work force need to learn new ways of doing their job or need to take on different roles?
  • How will we support our employees as these changes are made?
  • How can we keep our top talent engaged and reduce the stress as greater demands are made of them?

Talent accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing companies.  Make sure you prepare your employees for the changes ahead; otherwise talent constraints may be a drag on growth plans.

2. Structure and Process Barriers
You will need, too, to examine your existing organizational structures and processes.  High growth plans can be stymied by ineffective and unaligned structures and processes more appropriate for smaller companies.  Smart leaders identify the critical few processes that matter most and ensure that they are aligned with their growth strategy by answering a few fundamental questions:

  • What processes and structures matter most for us to execute our growth plans?
  • Will our current ways stand up to the pressures of rapid growth or do we need them to adapt to the new world order?
  • Where are the pain points most likely to be vis-à-vis our growth strategy?
  • Do we need to alter the depth or pace of our growth plans so we don’t reach the breaking point in terms of getting work done?

3. Cultural Barriers
Our organizational alignment research found that culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Culture and strategy are inextricably linked.  Successful leaders align their culture (how work gets done) to their high growth strategies by ensuring total agreement and understanding of how work gets done across several key cultural dimensions related to growth:

  • Market Approach – Should your growth be fueled by only introducing new offerings after the market has proven that they work (like Dell) or should you lead the market and consistently develop completely new offerings (like Apple)?
  • Customers – Should you scale the business based upon short-term and repeatable transactions with customers (like McDonalds) or should your growth be based upon intimate, customized and relationship-based experiences with each and every customer (like a 5-star restaurant)?
  • Focus – Do you need to focus more on internal systems and processes to support your growth (like Walmart) or more on external customers and market trends (like Whole Foods)?
  • Risk Tolerance – Should you try to eliminate all risk before making decisions (like Prudential) or should you encourage and reward smart risk-taking (like Goldman Sachs) to meet your growth targets?
  • Operational Approach – To meet your growth targets, should you strive for low process variation and high standardization (like In-and-Out Burger) or should you encourage employees to treat each job uniquely to meet customer needs (like a high-end consulting firm)?
  • Decision Making – Should the majority of key decisions be made by top leadership (like the US Army) or should the front line be empowered to make key decisions in the field (like paramedics) to support high growth?
  • Results – And lastly, does growth at all costs matter most (like Oracle) or is growing the “right” way of highest priority (like Outward Bound)?

Companies that agree upon how to approach these seven cultural dimensions of growth build strong corporate cultures to support and accelerate growth.

The Bottom Line
Leaders who blithely ignore the stresses that the barriers to rapid growth can place on their strategy do so at their peril.  It is the purposefully aligned organizations who can foresee the barriers to rapid growth and adjust accordingly that will win in the end.  Are your people, processes, systems and cultural norms ready for rapid growth?

To learn more about whether your strategy is set up to overcome barriers to rapid growth, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Growth Strategy

Comments are closed.

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

Emily Couey
Director of Human Resources

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

Jeff Coon
Director of Human Resources

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

Cam Greig
Associate Director

Roche

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

I highly recommend LSA Global to anyone who is looking to improve individual or organizational effectiveness through their top quality programs and broad range of expertise.

Greg Pappas
VP of Human Resources

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More