Concerned businessman looking at piece of paper

6 Ways Leaders Fail During Scaling Up Implementation

by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

I first learned about Scaling Up when I brought in a consultant to evaluate my business several years ago. My consultant introduced me to several strategy methodologies. One was Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, as outlined in his book. Scaling Up saved my business and helped me get aligned.

My team and I completed the requested homework as part of my consultant’s discovery process. We then reviewed the findings and recommendations. This was the beginning of our trajectory intervention.

So you’re gung-ho about Scaling Up and are motivated to implement it in your own organization. That’s the first step towards improvement!

Unfortunately, effort and intent do not automatically equate to a job well done. Here are some common pitfalls that I’ve seen during my experience as a Scaling Up certified coach that you should avoid.

Top 5 Most Common Scaling Up Mistakes

Going it alone and not hiring a Scaling Up Coach/Consultant.

You will not fully succeed on your own.

So many books are sold in airports that are not fully read, with learned strategies that are poorly executed. There is value in working with a Scaling Up Coach/Consultant who has been on the journey you seek to be on, many times in a myriad of situations. And besides, an outsider is going to be much more likely to identify blind spots.

Working with a certified Scaling Up Coach ensures adoption of a systematic approach. Working with a certified Scaling Up Coach ensures objectivity and allows you to do the important work necessary to improve your business.

Failing to align the executive team through the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

There is a reason the first Rockefeller item is “The Executive Team is healthy and aligned.” From my experience, this is best accomplished through The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Framework. Why? Because it is a simple, yet effective model that works.

If your Executive Team is not healthy and aligned, nothing else matters. All problems start at the head. There is a reason this is the first item on the Rockefeller Checklist.

Failing to remove non-believers/disruptive/low performers from the team.

It is always fascinating to take a team and organization through the Scaling Up process. You will have those who view this as exactly the right approach right now—as a breath of fresh air—as the obvious next step to flourish, not just survive. And then you will have the naysayers, non-believers, disrupters, and low performers who suck the oxygen from the room.

This is normal.

It is completely normal to have team members who feel the current approach, process, strategy—anything is working just fine the way it is currently. There is good news. The Scaling Up process is designed to engage team members to enroll them in the vision and draw out their ideas to help them visualize the future and take ownership. Key Tip: Use psychometric assessments to help understand how team members view and engage their world.

And it is completely normal to have those who choose to buck the changes. At the end of the day, if you have truly done everything possible, it is often best for these people to find an organization that better suits their interests. If you do not help the non-believers off the “bus,” you can expect your true believers (who are counting on you to weed out the non-believers) to become disengaged.

To enroll team members in a vision, get their buy-in and ideas.

Do not allow non-believers/low performers to continue to poison the water.

Half-assing the approach. Go all in.

Ron Swanson was right. “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”

The way out is through. The key to achieving the potential that the Scaling Up process can and will deliver is to invest oneself and their team 100% into the process.

Embrace the suck. It will not be easy.

Embrace the pain. It will be painful.

When you embrace the suck and the pain, the outcomes will be wins, and each win builds your team and organization.

Just focus and do the work.

Failing to be as transparent as possible with the data and decisions.

I get it. There are some situations where keeping information such as profit margins, compensation, or Customer lists close to the vest may seemingly be required.

This need is extremely rare. This is more about your fear than anything else. You need to overcome the fear that sensitive information will somehow cause your people to freak out about your profitability. While this may be a real fear in the short-run, it is misplaced/misguided in the long run.

Loyal people who fit the role make better decisions when all the information they need to make better decisions is readily available. Yes, there are those that will exploit this information for their benefit. That is what a scary lawyer is for. These people will root themselves out.

Be transparent. Engage only those that can do the work well, be trusted, and will be loyal. Root out the non-believers. Immediately. Trust the decisions good people will make with all of the data they need to do so.

Failing to slow down to speed up.

If you do not make time now, you will lose time later. Bad decisions and poor processes ooze time.

You have to slow down to speed up. You must do the work. There are no quick fixes. There are no magic potions. Running and gunning, running hard and making it up as you go, works in the early days of a business, but in the long run, running and gunning wears good people out and wastes valuable time, energy, and resources.

One must invest the time and resources to align the team around People - Strategy - Execution - Cash. And while you, the CEO, or senior team member may feel you have all the answers, you do not, and you need the crucial buy-in from those you need to make it all happen.

Work with a Scaling Up Coach to Get Out of Your Own Way

If implementing the principles of Scaling Up is truly a priority, do it the right way upfront. Ensure that you have someone who knows the process and has done it before. An objective set of eyes will be able to spot improvements otherwise overlooked and be void of any bias.

Set up a time with me to discuss your ideal growth trajectory.