October 9, 2007

News & Opinion: Your "Inner Circle" in No Man's Land

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 5:05 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

A few weeks ago we had Doug Tatum, author of No Man's Land, in town for an event with area business people. He talked about that difficult transition from a small company to a big company. One message that seemed to resonate with the audience was the idea that to grow in a healthy way, leaders must refresh their "inner circle" of confidants and managers. They must bring in experts and competent leaders--which can mean making difficult decisions when your entrepreneurial company grew from the ground-up, led by people who were passionate about the product or service, but perhaps not knowledgeable about running a company.
(From Chapter 3 of No Man's Land)
"Who should occupy these positions? As an entrepreneur in No Man's Land, you need competent and experienced people in leadership positions--people who can help you execute. After all, the firm is going through a transition without a ton of resources at its disposal; it can't make many mistakes and still hope to survive...
To avoid making too many mistakes and to reduce risk, rapid-growth firms need people who have worked with larger organizations and who know what the firm will look like at a larger scale. These people won't be acting instinctively to solve problems, as entrepreneurs do when making their initial customer promises. Rather, they will be acting on the basis of what they know from experience to be true. They won't be learning as they go, and thus won't be making the natural mistakes that are part of the learning process. They have already made these mistakes, and they've done so on other people's dimes."

It was a pleasure to have Doug in Milwaukee. While most of the audience left looking pensive, we heard from several people that the subject matter was immediately relevant to issues their companies are facing.