In thermodynamics a phase transition marks the shift
from one state to another. As energy in the system increases, the enthalpy, the states move through
the progression outlined to the right.
What I want to point out is that each state has its own properties and
in most cases it would be hard to confuse one for another. For example,
an ice cube (solid) doesn’t resemble steam (gas).
In fact, generally speaking, the states are so different from one
another that for the longest time we (people, that is) thought they
were altogether different rather than different manifestations of the
same basic substance.
And that’s how it is in business, too. One state doesn’t really
resemble another at all – though they grow out of each other as more
and more energy is poured in.
Leaders are known for pursuing and provoking state changes. For
example, they like to go from being the first ones on the scene to
being the world-recognized leader in the field. But, it takes quite a
different capacity to mine the frontier than it does to serve the
In the first situation, standardization falls by the wayside as the
spirit of adventure and exploration carries the day. But, as one moves
to world domination, suddenly issues of scalability loom – how does one
keep customers happy when suddenly there are billions? This is the kind
of issue we see companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and
It’s a fact that most companies won’t realize the global leadership of
these giants. Nonetheless, there are state changes to be sought and
then reckoned with. For example, serving an enthusiastic group of early
adopters – the people who love you and what you stand for – is quite
different than providing for those who have no particular bias in your
favor and may even be coming over to your services and products
unwillingly, just because they have to now that you’re winning
When this happens, the biggest thorn in your side may not
be processing all these new customers, but adjusting your own staff and
business processes. We all like our ship to run smoothly. And when
growth scales up it can be anything but smooth.
Rapid growth often requires speedy adjustments, innovation in real
time. Preparing your people and your head for the changes that come
from crossing a threshold is a challenge. But, of course, scaling up is
worth the trouble. It is one of the most powerful forms of growth –
Every successful expansion effort works its way through twelve core
areas. These are your primary variables. Each situation is different,
and these twelve are anything but discrete. They are interdependent.
So, they must be dealt with together. They are:
– who’s in charge globally and locally?
Development – where is business grown and how?
– who is on our side and how do we work together?
Leadership and Public Relations – who are we educating and by
- Finance and
Risk Management – what are the numbers and how are decisions
– how does logistics and execution drive or inhibit growth?
- Talent and
Human Development – are we developing the people we need now and
Sharing, Training, and Support – how do we learn, adapt, and
- Procurement –
what shifts in the ways we obtain products and services?
- Legal –
are we on new ground, what do we need to know?
Technology – this is the #1 infrastructure support and constraint.
Processes and Administration – how do we change how we do things
When you are planning to move to another level of performance, to
transit a phase change, consider each and how they support the others.
By systematically exploring how each of these twelve areas can be
prompted to meet your growth, you can ensure almost all of the details
and elements are accounted for as you prepare for a new level of growth.