Speedy Growth and the Speed of Problems
Problems are everywhere. Maybe you hope to bypass issues or assume that those that make it to the Forbes Billionaire list are immune. The truth is, the more success you have, the more challenges you will have to overcome. The speed of problems relates to the rate of growth.
Why do the successful ventures create more problems? Your influence effects thousands if not millions of lives. If you have a billion-dollar company, you have a lot of people working with, for and against you.
People depend on your success.
Show me the money!
An ambition propelled most every entrepreneur or business owner I have ever worked with: to find a way to make a great deal of money. The quicker, the better.
Speed was usually an essential part of the equation because, typically, they are highly leveraged to dream of a “billion-dollar idea.”
However, the quicker the success, the more likely a deluge of problems. I call that the speed of the issues.
Uber Had Speed
I read a story last year by Chris Zook and James Allen at Harvard Business Review about UBER’s growth and the speed of their problems.
Imagine making 68 BILLION dollars in 7 years! When they lost 700 Million in 2017, while it was significant, it was a sneeze in the big picture.
Still, with all that success, they faced problems that resulted in financial and capital loss, as well as the toll it took on the human resources within the entire company.
Uber, not unlike many other “Unicorns” (A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion), has a high expiration ratio, in fact, 66% or two out three. Having money, multiplying, being a wildly talked about business or individual, does not mean you can sustain the success.
Reality kicks in when problems show up. And the real issue: the questions were sneaking in slowly but not spotted. The game was on, and things happened fast. Money flowed. Who has time to look into the little things?
The Speed of Problems Checklist
- Do you take time to notice the problem when it’s small?
- Are there systems that track data to detect problems?
- Who are the people in place to solve problems?
- Do you neglect small issues, thinking you need to focus on the significant issues?
- How do you value the feedback, however small, that could indicate problems?
This list is by no means exhaustive.
We Can’t Scale Genius
The authors Zook and Allen describe the characteristic of many successful people as:
“the unscalable founder.”
The ability of the superstar to scale the business around other great minds and resources is critical. If they insist on micromanaging and controlling the processes, they become the limited brain of an engine that can only go so fast without running into the speed of problems.
The business is great when people are great. People with diverse gifts and specialties can spot a problem brewing long before the giant “head” can absorb it. There are too many factors at multi-levels, and they need monitoring. We must empower the people (human talent in the organization) with education, training, and some power to initiate change and problem solving early on.
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