Zone of sustained growth

It is challenging to balance how much time and money to allocate to developing your Company's Operating System (Company OS).

Too much, and you are wasting time and money. Too little, and you'll experience many kinds of organisational issues. There's an ideal Zone of Sustained Growth, but it's hard to achieve. Whatever you do, know that the more your company grows, the bigger the need for the Company OS becomes.

So what are the possible scenarios?

1st Scenario: Overenthusiastic Company OS development

Wouldn't it be great to own a perfect company: where everything always works as it should, and everyone knows their place? In principle, maybe. In practice, it's not possible. Even attempting to do so is not feasible or desirable. You'll use too much time and resources while causing unnecessary organisational stiffness.

2nd Scenario: Neglected Company OS Development

The other extreme is where Company OS development is neglected in its entirety. Either by being negligent (you know that you should do it but don't do it), unskilled (you know that you should do it, you've tried it, but don't have the skills to do it) or oblivious (you don't see that you need it). Growth blinds and speed is the key. As a result, no systems are built to sustain growth. All kinds of issues pop up when your company grows and the plan starts to go south. Then your strive for growth becomes a fight for survival. No one wants that.

3rd Scenario: Pain-Driven Company OS development

The most common scenario, although the level and results might vary. Company development is seen as a necessary evil and is developed only when issues come up. And then only just about enough time and resources are spent. As a result, the pain-driven Company OS development sustains the operations only for a while. While there's an ideal scenario, the pain-driven Company OS development is sometimes the most sensible choice: it may provide more bang for the buck. Also, it for sure is better than negligence.

4th Scenario: Systematic Company OS Development

The ideal scenario. Company OS is recognised as a growth enabler. Enough time and money are invested in staying ahead of the curve — but not too much. There are people whose job is to ensure smooth sailing for the Company. And people whose job is to ensure that the results are achieved. These professionals can be either internal or external, but their input ensures it gets done—as Company OS development is as "important but not urgent" as it gets. It will not get done without having someone responsible for it.

Which path will you choose?

The Zone of Sustained growth is a beautiful principle. But sometimes, it makes more sense to go for the pain-driven approach. Now that you know more, I hope you choose either of the above over the negligent or overenthusiastic option.

Your company will need a proper Company OS when you grow above a certain level.

It may feel fun and agile right now — but you'll hit a point of no return.

So be prepared.

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