Your Management Structure. Supportive, or destructive?

Growing Pains


As organisations increase in size, they will outgrow their management model. Probably. Not all do, of course, but the majority will.

Imagine the difference between running a one-man band, a fifty person organisation, a 250 person company, or BP with thousands of employees. Now think about whether you would want to manage each of those business types in the same way.

Whether you were John Brown the butcher, or John Brown the CEO of BP, you’d have different ways of getting the information you need to run your business. You’d have to delegate different powers, perhaps, to different kinds of people. But you’d still want control, and you’d still want to lead.

Those are perhaps extreme examples of organisations that could be using inappropriate structures and processes to manage their business. And they highlight the fact that businesses can change, and thus need different management structures and styles.

Yet many organisations that grow will see increases in either or both size and complexity, and don’t change the way they work… until after the need is painfully obvious; often brought about by the kind of crisis which brings previously hidden issues to the fore.

It’s a phenomenon common to all sizes of organisation throughout their life-cycle – from the first time a business owner hires someone other than their first member of staff; right the way through to an organisation with several hundred staff, stuck with too few people making decisions, or too many cooks spoiling the broth.

It’s also true whichever sector you’re in. Whether a high fixed-cost professional services firm, or a low cost manufacturer, the size and complexity of your business, and the skills you have within the business, will impact on the way the business could be run.

This paper examines the practical consequences of growing businesses without changing the way you run the business; and highlights the trigger points that will allow those running the business to identify when to bring about change in an orderly manner.

Who should read this?

Business leaders. Managing Partners of professional service firms. Business owners. Business managers responsible for a growing – or indeed, declining – business, concerned about the fact that their business structure or management is just getting in the way.

People who want their management style, structure, decision-making and planning to 'fit' their needs. Not stifle them.

John Wade