The challenges of growing companies

I have started working for a brief period of time in a medium-big company. Then I moved to a micro organization (actually I was the first employee).

When in you work in a very small company there are a lot of difficult things but there are also a lot of opportunities. You have to be flexible and be able to do everything, but at the same time you can take decisions very quickly. You cannot rely on specialized teamwork, but you could easily have an overview of everything that is happening around the company. You have to deal with a lot of day by day problems, but at the same time you have the opportunity to explore all the subjects and problems that a normal business faces.

It is clear that because there is a leakage of specialization, the general efficiency of the company is very low especially from the structural point of view, but at the same time, if you are competitive (and you have to be in order to survive) you can create big opportunities leveraging on the flexibility and your ability to respond to niche market needs.

And then the company grows. And everything changes. And everything has to change. Moreover, a lot of people working in the company feels the need for a change.

The change from a small company to a medium one is really difficult. From one side there is the need of more structure, the need of clear directions, the need to be better organized. On the other side there is the risk to lose flexibility, to feel the pressure of strict rules or to be less involved and informed about what’s going on.

Unfortunately during this transition the growth of the company generally absorbs a lot of cash and resources in general, so the situation is even more challenging.

The growth of the company is a difficult moment at all levels of the company, for the workers, for the employees, for the managers and for the top executives too. The workers are less and less involved in the interaction with managers and employees but in general their work tends to be more organized and structured (at least in the long run). The employees are required to be more specialized and to focus more in some skills and at the same time to interact with more people and more departments within the company. Managers have less freedom but at the same time they are less involved in the work itself and more responsible for the organization of the work environment and for creating the right synergies between the different departments.

For the top managers and for the executive there should be a transition too. This last one is very important because is the main driver for the change of the company. Without it, the company will be in trouble. The company needs more structure and the flow of information have to be more clear, more easy to be understood at all levels.

A company could decide to remain small, and in some industries this could be a good strategy. But in most cases the growth of a company is the only way to be very competitive in today challenging world. The transition from a small to a medium and then to a big company is not easy at all and involves all the levels of the organization. But at the same time it could be a good opportunity. Managing it in the best way could create solid basis for a leading company of the future competitive globalized world.

Transparency into organizations

When I am put in charge of a project I normally start asking questions. I ask a lot of questions because the more I know the easier it is for me to understand what is expected the project to be. And sometimes the questions that I made seem to be not so much correlated with the project itself. This is typical of my style of doing things. I want to have clear in mind the full picture of the project, starting from the customer needs, the reasons for the request, the country where the product will be sold and so on. But I want to know more. I want to know the expectations of the customer, of the company management, of the potential customers and so on. Basically in mind I want to create the best picture as possible, like a Prezi presentation, a big picture where you can zoom in and see all the small details and even more. If you do not give me all the information I need, of course the result of my project will be less accurate, or let’s say, less effective.

The same is valid for all organizations in general. The more you know about the organization, the more efficient you could be in meeting the organization expectations, the more easily you will be integrated into the organization itself. Unfortunately I should say that in this case there is a big difference between the delivering of information for a technical project and the delivering of organization information in general.

In the case of a technical project when I ask questions the result is very simple – or I get the answer or I will not get the answer because the answer is still unknown (and sometimes is part of the project to find it out). In the case of information within organization, the situation is a little more “blurry” – sometimes you receive the answer, sometimes you will not because this information is “reserved”. Or even worst, sometimes it is better to don’t even ask questions on that subject.

All this comes to the tile of this post. The transparency into organizations. There is great post with title: “Transparency is the New Leadership Imperative” which speaks about the modern concept of leadership and transparency.

As I said before, if you want to be really effective and manage at best all the resources that you have you must know the full picture together with the small details. And your team and your employes are the most important resource that you have and should be put in the best possible condition to drive your company to the global competition. In order to do that the sharing of information between the organization, with no secrets and with complete transparency, is the key factor to be competitive. Of course the way that you deliver the information is very important and is the crucial factor for having excellent managers into the company.

The old style companies where the top level management knows the most, than the middle managers know less but have to report everything, and the low level employees know almost nothing is over. This model of business could still survive for a while. But in the nowadays society where there is an excess of information and the channels for delivering information are so diversified and easy to use the real challenge is not keep information for yourself but it is to be able to distribute the information as best as possible. An excellent manager today is not anymore the one with experience but is the one able to transfer experience, the one able to facilitate the delivering of information at all levels of the organization itself.