As the companies I work with continue growing, I noticed a few common themes. I often collaborate with teams that have been acquired by large “successful” companies. In some cases, these are private or private equity, while others, they may be publicly traded. From the outside, these acquiring companies seem to be smooth-running, well-oiled machines; however, once inside, it is evident they are anything but that. Typically, these companies do well financially…although, when you look under the covers, it is baffling how this can be.
In my experience, it seems that bigger companies are going through similar growing pains as smaller organizations, such as clarifying the vision or direction, structural and accountability challenges, and universal team health.
One area larger organizations tend to have dialed in is their finances/metrics. Sometimes, this is a public SEC requirement, and in other cases, it may be related to the private equity firm that owns them. Regardless, a strong financial acumen is the singular factor that helps to drive decisions and profit. I find it interesting how much of an impact this has – which is why I push for teams to get tight on their books and metrics. Why? Because they are quantifiable and can have a major impact on the organization.
For these acquiring companies, this is often where the “well-oiled machine” part of the organization ends.
Because metrics are easily measured and the bottom line is generally the focus of success, I think some major areas are missed, particularly around the clarity of the vision/direction, trust within the team, and defining accountabilities. More mature and cohesive teams tend to see these areas in crystal-clear focus, supporting the vision, team trust and accountabilities in their inevitable transition to becoming teachers and coaches. In meetings and everyday interactions, each team member is fully engaged, candid, and direct, yet supportive. They are clear on where they are going and how they (and their individual team) contribute to that success.
I wish there was a simple way to reliably measure these points, as I believe they truly drive the success of the organization. And, when combined with clear, accurate metrics, the success becomes turbocharged.
If you are a small business acquired by a large organization, never fear! By having a vision, team trust, defined accountabilities, and financial acumen, you are set up to leave a positive, successful impact on the company. I have witnessed larger (albeit messy) organizations acquire much smaller, more cohesive, and accountable teams. In many cases, the small company becomes the business that swallows the whale. What I mean is the impact the small, amazing team can have on a larger organization is extraordinary and not to be underestimated.