A company in a time of rapid growth would seem to have little to worry about. Adding employees is an obvious sign of success, right?
But in reality, rapid growth can be just as challenging as a time of technological disruption or a time of increased competition in your industry.
When you grow from 50 employees to 100, from 250 employees to 500, from 500 to 1,000, or from 2,500 to 5,000, the challenges are not linear, they are exponential. These are the points of inflection in a company's growth, times when many things are changing, rapidly and all at the same time. Your company's culture, lines of communication, organizational structure, the sense of intimacy and community that existed when your company began – all can be blown apart.
When you're going through this change, you may find that the people, the habits, the frameworks and the processes that got you here may not necessarily get you to the next level. And this is very unsettling for everyone, especially the leadership team. People who were integral at launch may not be right or interested in the kind of work or role that's involved in the next phase.
Your leaders are now facing decisions that they never faced before. You'll be facing questions like, “Should I replace a founder?” Or, “How would they react to a different role?” And, “What's the impact on other people if our founder does get replaced? Will there be an exodus of key talent?”
Another thing you will find is that everyone on the leadership team has a different idea about what success looks like. When you're growing really fast, there are so many people who want to do so many different things that it's very important to stay grounded and focused.
Navigating these growth transitions is crucial and difficult. No organization can be prepared for everything. But if you bring to these transitions some concepts about how to communicate, how to build a sound, sustainable, thriving culture and how to design your organization, you can navigate this.
Organizations that have the capacity to navigate these transitions, change quickly, and adapt and adjust are going to thrive.