As an organisation grows work is done to make some of haphazard or people dependent processes more systematic. Efforts are made to make recurring actions or activities consistent. We rarely call this adding bureaucracy due to bureaucracy’s bad rap, but in essence this is what are doing in this stage. This aspect of growth is often like ‘herding cats’ but welcomed when it is done well.
Getting the balance of consistency and haphazard correct is challenging. Once the consistent processes are in place, over time people are hired to ensure the organisation follows them; their job often depends on it. The consistent application of recurring processes become seen as an efficiency driver and a critical contribution of economic growth. Through this work, the costs to deliver our product or service goes down. However, if we are not careful rigidity takes over.
And therein lies the tricky bit. When we try to innovate or implement a change project, the organisation who has enabled us to innovate in one way is the same organisation that is a barrier to bringing the innovation to life. It may be the procurement processes or the hiring processes or financial processes.
As an organisation grows and develops it has to become more bureaucratic so that it can scale, but over time the exact forces required for scale hinder innovation and change. Being aware of this is crucial. Figuring out how to enable both is challenging.