Is the activity level in your organization causing burn-out and frustration among your employees? Are there methodologies you have today that are no longer effective and you have to add new ones? The pains you are experiencing are actually phases of chaos that the organization moves through while preparing itself for growth. Literally without enduring these zones of chaos, the organization would not be able to sustain itself or compete in the next stage of growth.

These chaotic zones are an important juncture in the growth model of any organization. They are going to hit you, you can’t ignore them, but you can know when they will hit and therefore allow you time to prepare for them. We also see evidence of these chaotic transition zones in nature, where many of the concepts of the 7 Stages of Growth are compared to. Nature tells us a lot about change and how the necessity of that change is the same in nature as it is in organizations. Take for example the caterpillar whose sole purpose is to become a beautiful butterfly. That butterfly will have to go through the chrysalis stage of change and experience a lot of chaos before it emerges as a monarch butterfly. If something interrupts that change, the transition will never occur, and the butterfly will die before it’s ever able to emerge from the cocoon.

The same thing happens in companies as they move through these chaos zones. It’s maybe not as mysterious as the transitions of a butterfly, but they are no less important to business growth. It’s also interesting to note that inside these vulnerable transition zones of company growth, a high level of confusion among the staff about what is going on inevitably appears. While leaders of organizations tend to understand and accept change (mainly because they are at the helm of creating that change) the employees in an organization are often caught off guard and confused by that change. As human beings we tend to gravitate toward what’s safe, and what can be explained. We look for a state of equilibrium that is safe and understandable. However, if we stay in that state too long it can cause an organization to decline.

As companies move through each of these stages of growth, they will experience one of two transition zones, depending on the stage they are leaving and entering.

Flood Zone – a Flood Zone is a transition zone that shows up when the level of activity in an organization increases – literally the company tends to feel like there is a flood of activity. The people in the organization quickly feel overwhelmed by the activity occurring. There are more projects, more money, more confusion and performance and productivity can erode. When this occurs, there is a knee-jerk reaction by the leadership to hire more people. However, hiring more people creates more activity and the company continues to feel like they are drowning.

The Flood Zone occurs between Stages 1 and 2, Stages 3 and 4 and Stages 5 and 6 of the 7 Stages of Growth. If you are in any of these stages of growth, the first reaction of the leader should be to slow everything down and have people evaluate what exactly is going on. Instead of hiring more people, which adds to the complexity of the organization, the company should look at what it is doing, how it is doing it and ask everyone involved if there are other/better systems or processes that can be put in place to reduce the level of confusion and concern.

Wind Tunnel – a Wind Tunnel is much different than a Flood Zone. A Wind Tunnel requires the organization to let go of methodologies that no longer work and create new ones that do. It’s not uncommon for leadership to have a difficult time recognizing that ‘what worked before isn’t working now’. Because of the increase in complexity the business is experiencing, leadership must re-evaluate how they are managing the many different aspects of the company and find new ways that will work better. To believe that ‘what worked before will continue to work’ is a strategy that will create a high level of frustration among the employees. The best practice as you experience a Wind Tunnel is to ‘tap into the intelligence’ of your staff and encourage them to innovate new ways of operating that are a better fit for the size of the organization and the demands placed upon it because of the number of employees. A Wind Tunnel occurs between Stages 2 and 3, Stages 4 and 5 and Stages 6 and 7.

Both transitions zones are a part of growth. You can’t ignore these chaotic zones but you can begin to understand them, prepare for them, and create a common language of growth that will help your employees understand and respond effectively to what is going on.

Do you want to find out which transition zone to prepare for in your organization? We can help you identify this and other growth obstacles that may be building up in your organization through our Stages of Growth X-Ray™.  In three distinct ways we can help you prepare for the next stage of growth:

  1. Online assessments that are stage-specific, people can get to the heart of the strategic growth issues quickly
  2. ​​​​​​​Provides a language of growth that gets to the root cause of growth barriers in a short period of time
  3. Creates alignment around the top issues that everyone agrees must be addressed right away.

Contact us today to start on your course to business growth.