Virtual Teams

Lessons from Silicon Valley – Issue 3


Reducing involvement to cope with complexity

Having recently visited Silicon Valley, Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration shares his experiences.

On my visit to the San Fransisco area it was interesting to observe the latest wave of great tech companies experiencing some of the familiar challenges as they grow and become more complex.

In a small organization, high-levels of involvement, communication and connectedness to both senior leaders and decision-makers tends to lead to a naturally high level of involvement, communication and collaboration.

As organizations scale (and this can happen very quickly), this starts to become counter-productive. There are too many meetings, too many people involved in decisions and a lack of clarity on decision rights and responsibilities. This can lead to significant slowing down of the operations of the business.  As I wrote in my first book Speed Lead “success can make you slow”.

Dealing with this is a real challenge. Leadership teams are passionate about their culture. They are committed to preserving the high involvement culture that brought them this far whilst also starting to realise that not everyone can be involved in everything.

This is a common development step in all organizations as they scale. When you have thousands of people distributed around the world over involvement can be as big a problem as under involvement.

It’s a real challenge, particularly for inexperienced leaders (of which there are inevitably many in high growth organizations)  to carry this message in a way that makes involvement and communication appropriate without damaging the agility and speed of the organization.

This is a normal part of developing capabilities for a larger and more complex organization but it does require an investment in people management capabilities and a change in ways of working to improve communication and feedback processes to those people who are no longer personally involved in meetings and decisions.

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