Creating a Vision for the Future
Stage 7 – called the Visionary Stage – is a very different world than previous Stages. In Stage 7, the size of the company ranges from 160 to 350 employees.
The challenge at this Stage lies in addressing the enormous shift in complexity in the organization as the number of employees can double from just the prior Stage. By looking at the business from the perspective of an ideal business model, providing an integrated yet holistic template of how the enterprise could perform, you can apply solutions from a more informed viewpoint. Not an easy transformation for a CEO, but a critical one to think about as a Stage 7 company.
The key objectives in Stage 7 are:
The Leadership team must have a clear vision and communicate that to the organization.
The company must always be selling to keep profitability sustainable.
Setting in place a strong corporate culture that unites the team.
Refining the business model for this largest Stage of Growth.
Focusing first on People, then Process, and finally Profit.
Innovation and Disequilibrium: Great Tools for Larger Companies
In Stage 7, the company has entered a phase that begins to form layers of bureaucracy which quickly impede performance and growth. When a company grows to this size there is an overwhelming tendency for it to gravitate toward safety and equilibrium. It starts to act like a large company, its decision making is slower, the product innovation process is lengthier, and the bureaucracy is formidable. The CEO must recapture the entrepreneurial spirit. In short, he or she needs to systematically ‘break’ parts of the company.
The job of the leader, along with sustaining and propagating the vision of the company, is to create a degree of disequilibrium and chaos within the enterprise. The CEO’s mission is to improve performance by stimulating higher levels of innovation and employee authorship. Stage 7 is a visionary stage of growth wherein the CEO makes an internal entrepreneurial “call to arms.”
A leader can accomplish this transformation by creating a corporate culture that expects, supports and rewards entrepreneurial endeavors. The leader must foster a company-wide paradigm that directs them to identify new opportunities, foster exploration, develop action plans and assign the resources to manifest those plans.
Challenges facing a Stage 7 company include products not differentiated in the marketplace, inadequate profits, too slow getting products to market, marketplaces that change too quickly and again, weak business model.
Why is business model so important in Stage 7? Having a strong business model creates the profit architecture of your company. Not understanding what is driving your profit, what your revenue groups are, and how the company makes and keeps money can cause a company to flounder and potentially die. Many organizations reach Stage 7 and think they’ve got it figured out. They grew this far, right? However, taking a critical look at the business model to evaluate profitability is key to sustainable growth.
Some of the Non-Negotiable Leadership Rules for Stage 7 are:
Revamp the company's Business Model to optimize company margins, rethink 3 Revenue Groups, innovate new Offers, and set future strategic direction of the company.
Generate, track, and preserve cash.
Ensure employees know how company makes and keeps money.
Leadership Team practices "management by walking around" daily and interacts at personal level with employees.
Revitalize workplace community by innovating the company core values program and infusing the culture with a specific citizenship recognition and reward program.
Visionary Leadership Is Vital
A Stage 7 leader must ignite the spirit of innovation, grow future leaders, and listen to their people. These traits have not been needed at this scale by the organization yet, so it is up to the leader to hone their skills and navigate the company through the largest Stage. The leader of a Stage 7 organization must be able to act as steward of the company culture and vision.
The leader must ignite a spirit of inspiration and innovation and be relentless in allowing mistakes in the pursuit of these new ideas.
To balance the Visionary leadership style, a leader must incorporate Coaching and Democratic styles as well. The organization needs a leader who can communicate well with employees and coach them to be their best.
The bottom line in understanding the Stages of Growth is that the complexity of an organization will always extract its due. Never be fooled. There is always a price to pay for growth. If you don’t get the infrastructure in place and the workplace community aligned as you grow, the pain of lost performance and profitability will inevitably send you back to the areas that you thought or hoped that you could drive past. Every company goes through the Stages of Growth. Some are aware of it, and some are not. It is up to the leader of the organization to make the choice – to be aware, and to take steps to mitigate the challenges of complexity.