Ever wonder why so many large companies are so very bureaucratic? Is it inevitable? Is being rigid and process-laden, innovation-shy and (often) soul-quashing the cost of size? It seems a steep price to pay, don’t you think?
I wonder if small-but-growing companies must bureaucratize at a certain threshold, or if they just choose to.
And if it’s a choice, how do we choose “Hell no!” for our own growing firms?
I’ve built my career working in, working with, and studying our largest companies. And this is what I think:
I think the human organization is an awful lot like a living organism.
A healthy organism – be it human or plankton – is simultaneously duplicating cells where it needs more and killing off others where they aren’t. This continual cycle keeps the body healthy.
And I’m convinced same cycle is essential for any organization intent on thriving, too.
Unfortunately, cells within a living organism can sometimes get stuck on duplicate, and do so at a much faster rate than they break down. We call that cancer. If left unchecked, cancer kills.
Do organizations mimic cancer when they build more and more bureaucracy – more task forces and committees and layers of management and support staff – without dismantling at the same pace?
If you run your firm, if it’s small and new and on a rapid-growth trajectory, now is your time to commit to undo every bit as actively as you build. More so! Because bureaucracy replicates without any prodding from you.
Dismantling bureaucracy? That one’s a little more of a struggle. Stay resolute.
Founder + CEO is a commitment to share the adventures and misadventures of our effort to build OPENfor.Business into an industry-transforming juggernaut, in 300 words or less. This is post #5 in that ongoing series. For the previous posts in Founder + CEO, click here.