5 Reasons Corporation's Efforts to Scale Can Lead to Imminent Death
The fools illusion
Imagine with me for a minute if becoming the best version of yourself was to become the biggest version of yourself. Indeed if the 150-pound version of me is excellent, then the 300-pound version would be even better. Amazing even! Right? Wrong. 🤦🏼♀️ That is crazy talk. Human potential doesn't work like that. And neither does the potential of corporations. After all, a corporation is nothing more than a collection of humans ideally moving in one direction towards a vision. And just as obesity in humans is the primary or secondary cause listed for all hospital visits and a 40% cause of death yearly, this obesity goal in organizations is also an imminent death sentence. And in some cases (keep reading), some are already buried in the business graveyard. Tombstone reads 🪦 - we believed the fool's illusion that bigger is better. But if you're a leader reading this, your organization isn't there - yet. However, you may wonder where the business equivalent of the E.R. is because your major systems are blocked, you're dangerously bleeding, and making things better isn't working. At least not fast enough.
When scaling lands you in the E.R.
Like a human experience in the E.R., organizations have two life-threatening symptoms that must be addressed first before they should focus on reaching their highest potential - scaling. The first is to stop the bleeding. Since the pandemic, bleeding has been happening in several areas. One area garnering a lot of attention is the bleeding of employees, aka the great resignation. The second area that needs attention is system blockages. Likewise, blocks in the supply chain come to mind. Whether these two examples describe your bleeding and blocks if you're having trouble in your scaling efforts, it's essential to discover these areas for your corporation. As with an E.R. patient, bleeding and blocks must be eradicated before the road to better health is possible. It's the same for corporations. And let's not forget the fool's illusion -optimal health is the goal, not obesity. Business size and impact are not directly correlated—more on that in a minute.
5 symptoms your corporate health is failing
1. S - Systems
Systems that support growth but don't support the humans using the systems for their jobs. According to Gartner Research two-thirds of employees have to hack work to accomplish their routine tasks. In their research, they note employees spend 1.9 hours extra hours a day. For the 10,000-person organization this amounts to 3.1 million wasted hours, 1568 wasted FTE and $78.4 million in financial loss. Imagine if your people analytics showed an employee wasted 2 hours a day. You'd fire them. But they are wasting it because of the systems of the corporations. That's some serious bleeding. 🩸
2. C - Culture of Caring
When corporations care more about scaling than they do about the bleeding, blocks, and optimal health of their organization they send a strong message to their employees and ultimately to their suppliers, partners, and customers. It leads to attrition, custom retention issues, and impacts profit.
3. A - Advancing Marketshare
Coporations whose focus in on exploiting their (historically successful) business activities by advancing marketshare vs. advancing impact. There are a number of corporations already in the graveyard for their focus on marketshare. Blockbuster, Kodak, Pan Am and others.
4. L - Life Long Learning
Currently life long learning is directed by leaders from a place of fear. Recently on a Curious Advantage podcast interview with John Hagel, Author of The Journey Beyond Fear discussed how current learning is driven by fear and the fact that knowledge today becomes rapidly obsolete. Leaders say "learn this or you risk losing your job". Rather than allowing employees to pursue their passions. Which as I've written in this article:
Examine the great innovators of our time or history - Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Henry Ford, Oprah Winfrey, and others. When you read their biographies one thing becomes clear - they pursued their passions. Some would even say their obsessions. And because of their relentless pursuit, we know their names today. What if the disengaged and unproductive employee you have all but written off is the next Steve Jobs.
5. E - Efficiency over effectiveness
Digital transformation (done right) is fantastic. The goal is to improve efficiency, value, or innovation for organizations, its stakeholders and to support its scaling efforts. When digital transformation is effective, it's seamless. When it isn't -leaders are frustrated, and initiatives fail. I write more on this topic here.
Are you dying to scale?
Has your desire to scale taken the fated turn to dying to scale? Like our human foolishly reaching to become the best version of themselves by becoming the biggest version of themselves death is imminent. Corporation optimal health, which leads to optimal impact, mirrors individual health - it starts on the inside. I believe its the greatest sustainable path to innovation. I call it innovation from the inside out. And I believe that empowering leaders with the innovative principles of design thinking (what I call leading by design) is the future of leadership. To learn more about the power of design thinking to help your organization achieve optimal health and a more sustainable means of scaling, message me for a complimentary consultation.