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How In The World Do You Scale?

Written by: Paul A. Raggio, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

My first assignment to Fort Bragg, home of the airborne, was as the Deputy Corps Provost Marshall and Chief of Plans for the 16th Military Police Brigade. Little did I know when I signed into the organization, it would be one of my most learning experiences in life.


I was in my twelfth year of service and recently graduated from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, where I studied campaign planning for a year. My Commander told me I would go to XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters, sequester myself as part of the team developing the Panama invasion plan, Just Cause, to capture President Manuel Noriega and bring him to justice in the United States.

We started the deliberate planning process in September 1989. A group composed of different branch specialities that were part of the invading force spent twelve-hour days creating the plan launched in December 1989. The Timed Phased Force and Deployment List (TPFDL), which contained the timing, alignment, and sequencing of the flow of troops and equipment into the theatre of operations, was subordinate to the campaign plan. We went through detailed briefings and tabletop exercises with the contributing troop unit representatives ensuring alignment with the campaign plan and TPFDL. Those four months of intense planning were a crash course on scaling an operation.


Two critical learnings for me were all elements in the deploying force must be aligned with the mission, and the flow of troops into the theatre must be appropriately timed, sequenced, and balanced. To successfully scale the operation, the subordinate leaders align their plans with the Corps campaign plan and incrementally contribute their combat, combat support, and combat service support power to the theatre of operations. For example, infantry would flow into the theatre with complimentary military police and maintenance elements.


These learnings are just as relevant for a company intending to scale. Effectively scaling is one of the most daunting challenges a company can endeavour. Controlling costs while investing in an expanding company’s human capital and production capacity requires detailed planning and precision timing. Aligning the top to bottom leadership in all departments and activities with the company's direction is essential. The C-Suite may develop the short and long term goals of doubling by 2025. However, the subordinate managers must articulate their activity resource requirements and when they must be acquired and introduced to support the expansion.


Incrementally adding new hire employees to an expanding organization deliberately and purposefully is just as essential. The demand originates from the C-Suite and threads through the leadership and management ranks. There is a fractional increase in the staff required to support every employee increase in operations, whether in accounting, human resources, contracts, logistics, or other supporting activities. Imagine doubling your workforce over the next two years, going from five hundred to one thousand employees.


A common mistake is shortchanging the talent that will be the accelerant for the expansion. For example, recruiting and hiring operators and underinvesting in the support staff. This pitfall degrades the scaling effort and ultimately impacts product quality, client service, and retention. Timing-wise, employ the support staff first to accommodate the considerable growth in operations.


Scaling an organization requires discipline and vigilance. Not only do all the subordinate activities have to be aligned at the start of the expansion, but they must also remain aligned until the company is fully scaled. Throughout, the leadership team vigilantly identifies and aggressively responds to hiccups that are sure to occur throughout the expansion and instils the discipline in the organization to communicate deviations from the plan.


Being disciplined in your planning and vigilant in your execution by aligning all the company’s activities and deliberately and purposefully timing, sequencing, and balancing the human talent incorporated into the expansion is how you scale an organization. This is how you lead, think, plan, and act. Now, let’s get after it!


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Paul welcomes your comments and feedback and please contact him at paulraggio@actioncoach.com.


 

Paul A. Raggio, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Paul Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions, a service-disabled, veteran-owned, family-operated leadership and management coaching firm in Santa Clarita, California. He is an AddingZEROS executive facilitator and certified executive business coach for ActionCOACH, the number one business coaching service globally. Paul mentors and coaches c-suite leaders, business owners, and their employees on leadership and management principles in achieving and sustaining their business growth and profitability goals. Paul and his sister were the 2020 Rookie of the Year for the ActionCOACH Southwest Region, the 2021 Rising Star Awardee for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the best Business Consultant & Coach of 2021 by The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. He brings over forty years of leadership, business, and personal development experience to executives and business owners.

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