Entrepreneurial companies are by necessity built around the passion and the personality of its founder(s). This can be a challenge when the company grows. For example, if the founder has really good business instincts, chances are he or she is also a bit impulsive. Why waste time drawing a map, when you possess something deep inside that allows you to feel your way along the wall? So the company takes on the pluses and minuses of the person(s) who set it all in motion. Most people can live with that. In fact, if you really think about it, when packaged in a unique personality, minuses can be as endearing as pluses. Right? It’s as much fun to talk about our company’s quirks and dysfunctions as it is to brag about its growth, or market domination within its niche’.
But there comes a point when a successful company hits a ceiling. Maybe the company finally becomes bigger than its founder, and its dysfunctions and quirks lose their personality to something called a corporation. Or maybe the founder is ready to slow down, and raw instincts need (to some degree) to be replaced with smart process. Or maybe another generation is moving into place, and the founder takes notice of the jerry-rigged vehicle he or she is driving and wonders if it will be a blessing or a curse to leave it to the children.
When a company hits that ceiling, a smart founder will sign up for some pain. That’s what our founders did. At the Pro companies, we have undergone the Traction process. If you’ve never heard of it, Traction is an Entrepreneurial Operating System that helps companies break through the ceiling without losing its personality or passion. Maybe it’s like helping a teenager become an adult. Yea, that’s a good way to look at it. Think of the dumb stuff you did as a teenager. Maybe it was funny then, and you never want to stop telling the stories, but at some point you have to quit doing that stuff and grow up!
I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat, watching the founders submit to this process. Because they love the organization and because they love the people who occupy every seat (and every boot), they are opening the circle of leadership and undergoing the scrutiny it takes for the organization to mature. Hat’s off to them! It’s not an easy thing to do. The ultimate goal is to pass along the founder’s passion, encode the values, translate the vision, and define the processes so we don’t grow out of our personality, so we can become an even better version of ourselves.