“Hey boss, there’s a problem.” Jimmy got the text at a bar. On a Friday at 22:45. It was nine hours earlier on the West Coast…but still.
The sender of the text was a senior manager. She had worked for Jimmy for years. He read the text over again. “Yep, we’ve got more than one problem,” he thought. Jimmy had started his company 15 years earlier. He’d hired as needed. First, he hired an assistant. He hired the next person and saw their capabilities. Eventually he ended up with a team of 10. No systems. No guidelines. Each person ran their own stuff. And when there were problems they called him. There were too many problems and they called too often.  That was the real problem. He stepped out of the bar and called the manager. They solved the problem in 15 minutes. The next morning he began writing his thoughts on how to fix the real problem. What kind of business did he want? He began by looking at each department. What are the functions? He didn’t look at the people. He began diagramming: This is what we are selling. This is how we deliver it. He started defining detailed job descriptions for each role.  It was a huge investment. Over the next 3 years he put his business growth on hold. He needed to have capacity to build these systems and not overload people with work. There was a massive cost involved in building and monitoring systems. He chose to use Salesforce. “We custom programmed Salesforce to match what my business needed,” Jimmy recalled. “We made a big investment in programming and customizations.” When he was done he had detailed documentation for every process in his company. People would know exactly what to do in each situation. He had automated every step. Then he began looking at his people. He gathered them and told them, “This is your new role. This is what you have to do. If you don’t do it then you will be replaced.” Jimmy had made a total commitment to upgrading his systems and processes to solve the real problem.

Questions for Discussion

  • How do you implement organizational transformation without caving to short-term interests?
  • Which departments are experiencing the most organizational transformation and why?
  • How do you scale?