Scalability Usually Requires Change

By : Rudy Vidal | | Category : Business Leadership Scalability xcs


Scalability is the ability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth (wikipedia.)

As leaders and managers the symptoms of lacking scalability might be:

  • Too busy to be creative, to improve and to plan
  • Never having enough time to do what we expected or promised.
  • Always reactive
  • Inability to grow after a proven track record of success.

What keeps our businesses growing is not the same as what keeps them running.
Good growth management requires accommodating more output with smaller proportionate increase in resources.
Companies that can’t do this, find growth to be their worst enemy.  Growth without scalability puts us out of business.

If you’ve built your business from the ground up as an entrepreneur, or inherited the business from a family member, there is a good chance scalability is a issue for you.
In fact, it is the #1 management issue we see in successful entrepreneurial companies.

Doing everything yourself, or having everyone do everything may be a requirement to get a company off the ground.  But this approach rarely works when you are trying to get a company from “off the ground” to “sustained flight.”
At this point, scalability, is now your best friend.  Especially, if you’ve noticed the symptoms listed above.

Consider viewing your company as an assembly of “People, Process and Technology”

  1. People
    • Make sure you don’t have overlapping responsibilities – Assigning multiple people the same responsibilities because you want to make sure it gets done is not a good idea.
      It feels safe, but it kills productivity and creates conflict.
    • Start building the right organization – Finding the right people takes time, don’t put it off and don’t hurry it. 
    • Empower people and get out of the way – Be clear  in your expectations of the output, provide at least the minimum requirements and get out of the way.
      It will rarely be perfect, but 80% on time is very much better than 100% too late or 100% done by you (probably still too late.)
  2. Process
    • Process rules can be an extension of you, without you actually being there. 
    • Process is more consistent than people when you are managing change.  Process, backed by context, is a great tool to build cultures. 
    • Make sure the processes are focused on making sure good things happen.  When processes are put in place to ensure bad things don’t happen, they are rarely scalable. 
  3. Technology
    • Whether in project management, accounts payable, scheduling or whatever, technology is a great source of scalability and visibility into the organization. 
    • Spend a chunk of your time figuring how to insert technology and processes towards building scalability.  Technology is more naturally scalable than human beings.
    • Don’t let your gut tell you that learning a new piece of technology is a waste of time.  If it takes too long to learn, then it might be the wrong solution.
      In any case, it is better to be frustrated because you can’t find the right technology than to be frustrated because you forgot to send invoices this month.

The key point is:
“What brought you to this level of success, may not get you to the next level.”