Bob Lieberman's Blog


Feeding The Beast

Fast growth is the goal of ambitious companies everywhere, yet it’s surprising how few know what to do with the opportunity when it finally comes.

Let’s say your company has 100 employees today, and business is going so well that you can legitimately project 500 in five years. If you’re at all typical (and trust me, you probably are), you have no idea what it will really take to pull this off.

You’re probably planning to scale the same organizational growth strategy that took you from 0 to 100 in those first five or ten years: add growth planning to someone’s existing responsibilities, promote some key people, hire some new ones, obtain more office space, and beef up your technology infrastructure.

If that’s you, you’re fighting the last war. Growing four more companies your size (while you’re still feeding the first one) requires a fundamentally different strategy.

Just think about it… the 400 employees at your “four new companies” will all need to learn their jobs. Their creativity will challenge the organization to change and improve. They’ll all need management (and a great many of them will be managers, who will need acculturation). They’ll all need to understand your vision and strategic and tactical roadmaps, which will have become broader and more complex to match your company’s larger size. And, of course, those 400 new contributors will all produce!

You can’t expect to delegate responsibility for this kind of transformation as if it were just another business challenge.

The hard truth is that, like all companies undergoing rapid growth, yours will die unless you give growth the respect it demands. Here are your first two steps:

  • Vest authority and responsibility for managing growth in a full-time position at the C-level
  • Fully resource growth at all levels of the company

This is an open-ended prescription, and it may give you pause. But rapid growth is by its nature open-ended. In fact, it’s a wild beast that can serve or destroy you.

P.S. It gets really hungry.