A System that FitsNov 27, 2022
A System that Fits
"I just don't know if this organizational system will work for us. We're unique."
If you've been in the organizational consulting space, you have probably heard this sentiment from a client or prospect. Maybe it’s even your own! The truth is every business is unique in some aspects of how they do business. However, there are a few, key strategies (along with a keen dose of wisdom) that every business needs to be successful. In our experience every business is still a business. That’s good news because it means that even if you hit some roadblocks or setbacks on the journey, there are ways to move forward and gather momentum!
If a business is going to achieve success, it will need a viable product or service that it markets toward a target group. Elementary, right? Sometimes. Then, over time the company will need to hire more people to handle the emerging roles and responsibilities that come with growth, complexity, and change. Everyone handles these challenges differently. But what are the proven strategies and systems that can help a business struggling under the weight of this load to get off the ground, find its rhythm, and achieve its goals?
To maintain a growth-oriented trajectory, a company must recognize its need to categorize, organize, and grow their organization as well as their customer base. Growth is dependent on a number of factors, but in this article, we would like to look at a few organizational models that could help your business expand. One of these may work for you, but if we can be of service in coaching you through let us know. It’s what we do.
We are going to look at the pros and cons of a few, reputable systems that may fit at various stages of your organization’s development. One of these may be a great fit for you, but if you find your needs are not best met by what you’ve found so far, we will offer away to contact us at the end of this article. We have several products and services that may be what you’re looking for. Or we can, at least, point you in the right direction! Sometimes you just need to talk to a human.
Here we are comparing four well known models that are currently on the market (The Lean Start-Up, Traction, Scaling Up, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution). We recognize there are more models out there (Measure What Matters, Clockwork/Pumpkin Plan, Business Made Simple, etc.), but to keep it simple we have limited it to four. We selected the models below because they have both similar and dramatically different components that make for a more comprehensive comparison. We will use a pro/con format for each system and make our recommendation for the stage of business each system is best suited for.
The Lean Startup
- Light structure and easy to pivot
- Clear guidelines on when to pivot and how to determine what type of pivot to make
- Quick to launch and begin to use as a regular part of your organizational rhythms
- Insightful in terms of counter-intuitive principles such as: MVP, small batch sizes, pivot/persevere decision, short time horizons, customer centric feedback on products
- Hard to utilize the whole framework if you don't have some type of digital/tech-based business
- Hard to leverage shorter feedback loops from customers if you don't already have the capability to hear from customers regularly
- Too flexible for businesses and leaders who prefer a more consistent, structured environment
A new initiative or early stage of development where there are many unknowns. This methodology is best when you are still trying to figure out your product offerings and who you are targeting. When you need that kind of flexibility, so you don’t go too far in the wrong direction!
- Simple system and streamlined documents
- Great primer for most business owners who know they need to implement a system of organizational accountability
- Highlights the basic functions a business needs (sales, operations, finance/admin) in a simple format.
- When you know what causes your business to grow (like email blasts to a certain demographic in a weekly cadence promoting great deals on your products and services) this might be the right system for you.
- For certain industries or certain early-stage companies who don't have proven methods for growth, clarity, and scalability, this is challenging because the quarterly planning process is too slow to keep pace with your industry or your growth.
- Gaps in the methodology. If you don’t have a proven system for organizational growth and development already established, the gaps in building out functional systems could be significant.
The best stage for this system is a business that is operating within a proven model of success. Traction might be a great fit for a new startup utilizing a franchise system’s proven process that has been tested and established. It could also be a great fit for a business that has grown organically over time but struggled to get to the next level because of a lack of structure and clarity. If your business has seen success but not at the level you envisioned, there may be a need for more structure and clarity so anyone can step into pre-defined roles and be successful. If this is you, this could be a great system to implement.
- Incredibly robust and thorough instructions on what key components drive scalability in your business (i.e. people, strategy, execution, cash)
- Includes templates and tools to build out the various functions and accountability structure of your business
- The best deep dive into the finance and accounting functions that businesses need to master, properly plan, and use cash to scale the operations of the business
- Complex process and system that almost requires an outside consultant to implement properly (could significantly add to the cost of implementation)
- Adoption of the whole system will take time and deliberate planning by the leaders of an organization (may not inherently be a con, but expectations need to be properly set to methodically develop and implement)
This model seems best positioned for businesses that are ready to scale, and have clear roles established and a consistent cadence of accountability. This set of tools and systems will help take a team to the next level in clarity of metrics for more rigorous decision making and more robust functional capability.
4Disciplines of Execution
- Simplicity of the system is a significant pro
- High focus on moving the lead measures (what you can control) to influence the lagmeasures (the resulting outcomes)
- Helps businesses define what their lead and lag measures are
- Easy alignment around solving problems that prevent the lead measures from moving forward
- The system does not include a planning process for long-term planning as it assumes you already have something in place. If you don't have long term vision, values, or measurables beyond a year, you will need to find methodology from another resource to add those components to your organization.
- There is a bit of work required to gain proficiency at aligning lag and lead measures. In our experience this is an iterative process that necessitates trial and error to determine what causes the lag measures to move and to distill those activities into a clear set of actions.
In a similar fashion to Scaling Up, we would say this isn't necessarily stage specific but in this case issue specific. And the title of the book gives away the issue, which is a lack of discipline in execution of the plans you create. This is a powerful addition to an organizational development process to increase the ability of a team or organization to execute on their plans.
So, which is the right system for you and your team? Well, it depends! Anyone that says, this system is the "silver bullet," is selling you a bag of goods! The truth is that all these systems have value at various stages of growth or for unique issues you are facing as an organization. Our recommendation would be to start by gauging:
- Are you at an early stage?
- Do you have a proven model and customer base?
- Are you poised to scale but need to add thoroughness to your organizational systems, processes, and decision making?
How you answer these questions may give you an indicator light for which system to start with. It's also helpful to know that there are component parts in all these systems that you might find useful at any stage of development. As we offered up front, if it would be helpful to speak with a real, live person to help you navigate the systems and processes that will benefit you most, schedule a discovery call with us, and we would be happy to help walk you through this process. And in the end, if we are not the best fit, we will do our best to point you in the right direction!