So many Rhythm companies start off as what we consider “simple” companies. As they begin scaling up they are experiencing steady, if not explosive growth. They might only have the executive team using Rhythm and Scaling Up Software (Rockefeller Habits 2.0). Some have a relatively flat structure with few locations and departments.
Inevitably, if they are disciplined practitioners of Think Plan Do, their growth will start to take off, and they will become what we consider a more “complex” company. They’ll have multiple layers of management, more departments, lots of new hires, etc. Some will grow through mergers or acquisitions, others will grow organically which straps shared resources and requires more formal processes.
In this journey from simple to complex, companies need to scale their systems quickly to meet the demands of the new organization. For example, they might need to expand their existing CRM, implement a new ERP system or bring an HR tool onboard to support their growth. As they hit that ceiling of complexity, their Rhythm processes and system for Think Plan Do will need to evolve as well. Failing to scale Rhythm will result in frustrated employees, loss of great talent, competition over resources and departmental silos.
Consider the story of BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy. In 2012, they were about $150M in revenue with approximately 80 employees. They started using Rhythm with just the leadership team - about 12 users in total. By 2017, they were just shy of $1B in revenue and had over 300 employees. Currently, they have about 60 Rhythm users spread over 9 teams!
Experiencing rapid growth and rising complexity may force you to re-think how your company’s Plan and Do Rhythms work. The way you used to do your planning sessions may no longer be effective. Your weekly team meetings might no longer be effective. You may need to experiment with some different approaches and be brave about blowing things up.
Here are some things to consider as you scale up Rhythm software:
Is it time to reorganize how my teams are structured in Rhythm?
In simple organizations, a typical departmental organization works very well. You have the Executive Team, the Sales Team, the Customer Service Team, the IT Team, etc. In a complex organization, it might make sense to organize teams around departments, projects, geographic regions, or a mix of the three. If you are a matrix organization, for example, it might make sense to name your Teams differently and have users function in multiple teams.
Do our Planning Sessions provide for cross-functional work?
In complex organizations, there are many dependencies between departments and teams. For example, if your Company Priority is a new product launch, it will require supporting priorities from R&D, Marketing, Sales, Delivery, etc. Their priorities will be dependent on each other, and they will be competing for shared resources (from HR, for example). Make sure your planning rhythm is giving teams a forum and process for working collaboratively. For example, BioPlus plans together as a leadership team to set the Company Priorities. Each Team does their supporting plan, then they get back together to make sure dependencies and shared resources are resolved. This helps them avoid silos and sets them up for tighter execution and collaboration throughout the quarter.
Is information flowing properly in your Weekly Adjustment Meeting (WAM) Rhythm?
Traditionally, a simple organization might have their executive team WAM on Monday with departmental WAMs happening on Tuesday. This sequence sets up the flow of information from the top down. Executives take information from the executive team WAM and communicate it to their team the following day at their departmental WAM. With increased cross-functional work in a complex organization, it might make sense to flip the sequence to departmental WAMs happening first. In this model, stucks that cannot be solved in the departmental WAMs float up to the exec team WAM for resolution. For example, if the Marketing team is stuck on a priority because they are waiting on something from the Product team, that will come up at the Executive Team WAM the next day.
Again, don’t be afraid to try something new if you feel you’ve hit a ceiling of complexity in your organization. Scaling Rhythm is a must to help you avoid frustrated employees, siloed departments, poor execution and missed opportunities. Remember - it’s your Rhythm - make it work for you!
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