In business, how can you tell when you’ve hit the Avalanche transition point?

  1. You’ll have huge revenue, while margins are lower than expected and falling. This is the number-one indicator a company has hit the deceleration transition.
  2. In the back office, you’ve got too many people doing too many things manually, over and over again. Cleaned-up, scalable automation processes have not been applied.
  3. Productivity is a big problem. High growth pushes operations very hard. When the production line can’t meet quotas, you end up with production outages. Meanwhile, new lines cannot come online fast enough.
  4. You’re also having outages in communication because your IT can’t keep up either. Maybe your voice mail is failing or full. E-mail is going down or is too slow, viruses are running rampant, and even your printers have somehow become cranky. IT is doing the best it can, but it wasn’t built to scale this big.
  5. High staff turnover is another indication that you’ve hit the Avalanche. People are getting burned out. They’re tired of giving up their personal lives to try to see the company’s goal through to the end. They don’t see a way forward to a place where things are going to get any better, so they start looking for new jobs where they won’t have to work as hard or as fast as they currently are.

Your company is like a New York City bridge at rush hour. All it takes is one little fender-bender for everything to go wrong. You’ll end up with a traffic jam that gridlocks all forward motion. Everything comes to a standstill. When the deceleration point hits, at first some people may breathe a sign of relief. They’re thinking that things will settle down, and everyone can catch up. They’ll finally have time to fix all the problems. Instead, they find to their dismay that the workflow is even higher because now they have to dig themselves out of the hole.

Nothing is going to get massively better any time soon – and meanwhile, you’ll have to redo every aspect of the people-processes-technology triangle to support your new multimillion-dollar company. The scary part of it is, you and your executive team are now more worried about your IT group than you’re worried about the company as a whole. When you find yourself with this problem – preoccupied with all the ways IT is failing – you know you have just crossed a transition point. You’re sliding fast into an Avalanche!