It’s about working hard, resting when you need to, leading a healthy life, and having a support structure around you. These factors help you improve. Adama Traore

In the early days of any company, you can just stay focused on getting cash (investment or revenue) and executing. Whatever your purpose, your focus can simply be on developing your product, producing, packaging, and getting the product out the door. As your company grows though there is a shift toward leadership that will happen where you will find that the effort put into just getting the product out is more focused on your team than is your individual effort. Your focus will need to be more on leadership, delegation, communication, and the process of getting work done.

Growing a company is not just something that you do through growing your strategy, people, cash and ability to execute. Leadership, the processes you have in place, and the methods you use will become exponentially more important the more the team grows.

The Chicken or the Egg, which came first?

As companies grow they need good leadership, processes, and methods for getting work done but in all cases, I have never seen where a company will invest in advance. I would say though that as your company grows you need to hire for the future. The leaders that you hire today should support the future you want to achieve.

Leadership process and methods for getting things done

I subscribe to a few email newsletters, one of them comes from David Perell and is titled Monday Musings.  He offers great tips on writing in this newsletter.  I also look for inspiration for blog posts everywhere and in this case, David caught my eye with a statement at the end “delegate then elevate”.  

Delegate then Elevate

David and another individual started a company and as their company has grown he coined the term “delegate then elevate”. In organizations of less than 10 people, I have seen this work fine because you are talking directly with the people that are getting things done. As the organization grows the clarity of roles played in the company will become less clear and often times people become confused about their roles and responsibilities. This lack of clarity results in organizational drag that prevents people from just being able to execute.

My suggestion is that you document (communicate) then delegate and elevate. By documenting you will be doing two things. First, clarifying in your own mind what you want people to do. Second, the boundaries of what needs to be done will become clearer. These two things will provide clarity for communication.

Importance of Structure

As your organization continues to grow, the structure will become more and more important. Clarity in the following areas will help your organization gain velocity as you add people:

  1. Reporting Lines – Have clear reporting lines. If everyone is the boss no one is seen as the leader. Establish clear reporting lines and respect them.
  2. Job Descriptions & Goals – As the organization begins to develop and you start adding people, establishing what their job is in writing with clear goals that they are to work towards is critical for understanding how they will help the organization deliver on its goals.
  3. Communication – Ensuring that you say out loud where you are going, what you want, and how people can help is important. In small organizations, you talk to the entire team on a daily basis. As the organization grows you need to start to think about group communication on a regular basis as well as how you will communicate with individuals one on one.
  4. Efficient Decision Making – As your organization grows everyone in the organization will be bogged down by decision making that has to all roll up at the top. What can you let go of and make the responsibility of your team? If everything has to come through one or two key individuals you are slowing down the process yourself. Every founder in every organization needs to figure out efficient ways to make decisions that enable efficiency but do not risk significant goals or milestones.

Back to the Chicken or the Egg

As your organization grows you can start very small and implement a version of the items above that matches the needs of your organization. Be careful not to over-engineer the items above.

Organizations are living things that will continue to evolve over time. As you start your organization, and you can look at people around a table it is easy to know if things are getting done or not. As your organization grows to above 10 people the impact of the size of the organization will become more and more obvious. Part of focusing on what matters means that you have to focus on the people and the processes in your organization.

Implement Reporting Lines, Job Descriptions with Goals, and Clear Communication. Make decision-making as efficient as possible then make sure that you revisit these items again in the future when your organization doubles in size again. By revisiting these topics and refining them through time you will better enable your ability to scale your organization over time.

Additional Resources:

Here is an article I wrote about company culture. Focusing on company culture is just as important as building your ability to lead.

Need Help?

My consulting organization helps Life Science companies build the right-sized strategies for ensuring organizational clarity. If we can help your organization as your organization continues to grow, please get in touch with me.