Who remembers the dot-com boom? That is a great example of growth that was too fast-paced. In four years, over three hundred companies made a million dollars and then lost it. Why?
Because they had a ‘sprint mentality.’ Their focus on growth, which was useful at the time, didn’t allow their infrastructure to keep up with their pace. They didn’t give opportunity or time for processes and procedures to grow with them, so when there was a slight downturn in the market, they couldn’t survive. Out of those 300 companies, we’ve only got three left: Amazon, eBay, and Google. Do you know the names of the other companies from that era? No, me neither. They’re gone.
Pace is about having a, “marathon mentality.” Sprinting is only good at the Olympics. We want to create companies that endure. We want to have a legacy that lasts, but that means two things:
You can’t sacrifice one for the other. You need to hire teams that are both pioneers as well as developers, hunters as well as gatherers. You need both in your organization for it to be scalable and sustainable. That’s a marathon mentality.
There is certainly a danger in growing too fast, but there is also a danger in moving too slowly. We refer to these as, “inertia companies.”
Inertia is an amazing phenomenon. Let’s say I put my daughter in our red flyer wagon and go for a walk. Do you remember those? So I’m pulling her along the sidewalk, being a good dad and making sure that she doesn’t fall out. What would happen if I stopped quickly? Yeah, the wagon would stop, but she would keep going, and someone would be taking a quick trip to the nearest Urgent Care.
We work with many CEOs of organizations that I call inertia companies. They’re slowly declining, or they’re doing okay, but they’re not innovating. They’re not going anywhere, and if that continues, no doubt they’ll be leapfrogged by other more innovative companies. Who invented digital photography? Kodak, but they missed their opportunity to lead the market. Who invented the cell phone? Motorola, but they were leapfrogged by Samsung and Nokia in 2002 and 2003 and never caught up.
Great organizations recognize the importance of asking this pacing question: Where am I at in terms of scalability and sustainability? Steve Jobs referred to this as the, “tik tok schedule.” We are talking about development versus delivery. Great organizations must give equal time to developing their business and delivering on their brand promise.
This is crucial to any long-term success. What happens if you’re sprinting all the time? Either you will burn out or blow up. No car is designed—no human either for that matter— to be at the maximum RPM over the long haul. We all need the reality of rhythm and rest.