How rapid growth leads to motion sickness

I find myself saying it all the time – “your greatest strength is your greatest weakness”. While I typically find myself applying the saying to professional development, the old adage holds true for organizations as well.

The rocket ship that we call Three Pillar is a great example. Inc. magazine just published it’s list of America’s 500 fastest growing private companies and for the second year in a row, Three Pillar made the list (44th and 226th respectively). Unfortunately, our rapid growth is both a strength and a struggle.

Rapid growth brings excitement, passion, and the thrill of success. There is nothing like the satisfaction of developing a strategy and watching it play out and be validated by the industry. There is real satisfaction in knowing that you are solving real problems for your clients and adding value to their organizations.

Unfortunately, rapid growth also brings a bit of pain.  High flying organizations like Three Pillar must continually navigate the market, refine strategy, adjust strategic implementation and learn from past mistakes.  These constant adjustments create motion sickness for the entire organization.  Just like taking a hairpin turn creates more nausea at 75mph than it does at 25mph, so does taking on organizational change in an business.

At times when motion sickness has grown too common, business leaders should stabilize the ship by reducing the number of items in flux at once. By taking out variables from the business and creating more constants, the organization can more clearly see the impact of the variables still in place. This exercise will highlight both strengths and weaknesses – helping the business to identify, and ultimately invest in, areas where it needs to build a more mature platform for growth.

Healthy businesses invest in both growth and the platform required to support the growth. By limiting change during times of high volatility, leaders can more easily see the weaknesses within the system and invest in their development.

Where have you seen growth managed well? Where have you seen it go astray? What types of weaknesses have you identified in high growth businesses?

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