November 19, 2018
“Speed.” This was the unflinching response Sandy Cutler, former Eaton CEO who is now retired, gave at a public meeting in Manhattan roughly ten years when a Wall Street analyst asked what worried him the most. Taking his answer further, Cutler said he was concerned that, as the company swelled through both acquisition and organic growth—already to nearly 100,000 employees globally—it would slow down. To be competitive, the company needed to be as fast as its smallest competitor.
People working in virtually every industry I’ve dealt with, in organizations from a few hundred to a hundred thousand, often say the same thing: “We’re too slow.” The fact is that, as you grow—even from a one-person show to a two-person partnership—your decision-making process becomes more complex and you begin to plant the seeds of bureaucracy. Left unchecked, bureaucracy seems to scale geometrically—the larger the organization, the more overhead bureaucracy requires. Workers need supervisors, those supervisors need managers, managers require directors, and on it goes. Read More