So often during the consolidation that follows the precipitous drop of the Avalanche phase of the business storm cycle, companies throw a lot of money at technology and forget about the people and the processes. That’s a big mistake – and a missed opportunity. This is your chance to bring your people and your process together so you can use the technology you have, or replace it with what you need to get your margins back in line with your revenue. Why is it so important to get these into balance? Imagine a stool with three legs; if you invest now in each “leg,” ensuring that they’re all the same length and strength, the stool (or your business) will remain steady and solid.
How do you determine which processes you need to replace? This is often nearly impossible to do unless you bring in outside help. People are naturally inclined to keep doing things the same way they’ve always done them, whether those ways still work or not – even you, business leader. So you may need to bring in someone who can see more clearly and objectively to help you work through the process of rebuilding your processes to scale to your company’s new size.
Don’t forget your people! This is the point where you start putting people in the roles that fit them best—and you see where you have gaps and where you have too many people. If you look around at the various departments – like procurement, HR and accounting – and you see that they can’t keep up, you need to take the time to figure out why:
- Where is the breakdown happening?
- What gaps need to be filled in before people can perform processes smoothly and effectively?
- Are people trying to do things in the old ways?
- Are the old processes unable to handle the volumes they currently have?
Once you have answered those questions, you can step back and take a more accurate look at your staff. You’ll be able to add people where you need them—and remove people where you don’t.
When you find yourself in this business phase, be prepared for the fact that those huge margins you were hoping for from your growth phase won’t materialize automatically. You’ll have to create your own margins by making sure your processes and people are all strategically aligned. You may have to merge your back office, bringing it together in a scalable process that you don’t currently have. This allows you to build the foundations you need for that next Tornado.