Over the past five years at Element Three, we’ve grown revenues by 587% and increased our staff from seven to 49 full-time employees. It’s all happened incredibly fast, which has forced our leadership team to realize that all of things you have to do in an organization to manage change effectively become increasingly more complex as you grow.
Reading up on Rockefeller
Granted, 49 employees is still a small company, but if our plan is to continue on this trajectory, it has become apparent that we must get it right NOW if we want to avoid sheer chaos later. I am an avid reader and I am currently reading "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits" by Verne Harnish.
Here's one of the key points that Harnish makes:
“There is a counter-intuitive aspect to growing a business: when a firm is under $10 million in revenue and just a little more focus internally on establishing healthy organizational habits would pay off in the long run, you have a tendency to focus mostly externally.”
“In turn, as the organization passes $10 million, the complexity issues start drawing the attention of the senior team inward at a time when it's more important for the team to be focused more on the marketplace.”
If we look at ourselves in the mirror here at Element Three, this is exactly the behavior we found ourselves starting to exhibit. Thankfully, we have taken periodic pauses on business development over the past five years to make certain that our internal processes were capable of taking on additional clients and expanding revenue.
This is the step that many companies fail to take because it is SO DARN HARD TO DO.
So where do you start?
There are so many steps to take it can lead to analysis paralysis and you end up doing a little bit of everything and all of nothing. I am a big fan of Patrick Lencioni and his "Advantage" book; combined with "Death by Meeting", they are the perfect tools to plan your attack.
Where is Element Three starting? With a realigned communication methodology, as is outlined in all three of the books that I have mentioned above.
The catch is, in order to have a clear communication plan, you need very clear messages to communicate, which takes us to the real step one: which is Creating a one-page strategic plan that drives the identification of goals, which in turn, drives the basis of all communications.
We are tackling this first step in an off-site, all-day leaders meeting this month, out of which we hope to jump right into our new meeting structure that will drive our communication strategy. We know this will take LOTS of practice and will be messy for awhile, but I really believe that if we can master the art of intentional internal communication, it will positively impact absolutely everything else we do in our organization.
Lucky for us, we are also at a stage where, from a marketing perspective, we are in a good place simply because we practice the strategic inbound marketing that we preach. Our marketing engine can run smoothly while we turn and focus more on internal structure and processes without abandoning our external messaging.
We would love to hear about how other organizations are balancing growth with structural integrity. Shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org - we’d be happy to share additional growth lessons we’ve learned over the years.
Originally published on the Element Three Blog.
Karen Seketa is the VP of Talent at Element Three, an Indianapolis-based full service brand and marketing agency that works to solve the most pressing sales and marketing challenges facing executives today. With over two decades of staffing and recruiting experience under her belt, she works every day to foster and grow a culture that ensures the agency continues to attract and retain the best marketing talent the industry has to offer.