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News & Press: Annual Conference Speaker Spotlights

Cracking the Code for Organizational Growth

Wednesday, February 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Written for AAOE by Amy Lafko, MSPT, MBA, CPBA, Founder/Principal for Cairn Consulting Solutions

Learn more by attending Amy Lafko's AAOE 2020 Annual Conference Session, "Cracking the Code for Organizational Growth".

Cracking the Code to Organizational Growth:

Don’t Ignore the Transition Zones

A few years ago, I was working as a director of rehab when the merger was announced.  My current team of 35 had been in a really good groove and suddenly I was going to be supporting 15 more therapists in another county. Growth is good but boy it can be painful unless you know what is coming and how to work through it.  At the time, I thought I knew what was coming but I didn’t have a clue. When the second merger was announced 2 years later, it was an opportunity to put into practice all that I learned and manage the pain during growth. 

Having the knowledge to 1) predict how growth was going to affect the organization, 2) know what things to focus on when and 3) how to adapt my leadership skills made the second period of growth much less painful.  Based on the research of over 650 small businesses, the 7 Stages of Growthä model was developed to provide knowledge on these three issues and two types of transition zones. 

1st Type of Transition 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. You can picture what this is like, things coming at you too fast to handle.  The people in the organization quickly feel overwhelmed by the activity occurring. There are more patients, more bills to go out, more payroll to process, more confusion which can erode performance.

In a flood zone there is often a knee-jerk reaction by the leadership to hire more people to handle all of the increases. In fact, hiring more people simply creates more activity and the team continues to feel like they are drowning-I’ve got new people to orient, we don’t have enough space, etc.  During a flood zone, the demands on your time to manage the people, the processes and the profitability leave leaders very little time to focus on strategy for the future. 

The first reaction of the leader should be to slow 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 other systems or processes that can be put in place to reduce the level of confusion and concern.

2nd Type of Transition Zone

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. When I think of a wind tunnel, I imagine holding on for dear life.  Unfortunately, resisting the force potentially causes me more harm than simply letting go. To believe that ‘what worked before will continue to work’ is a strategy that defies logic, yet we cling to it.  Instead of adapting or eliminating things that no longer work, many leaders cling to strategies from the past. Because of the increase in complexity, the company must re-evaluate how they are managing the many different aspects of the company and find new ways that will work better. 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 business that isn’t growing is dying.  So, go ahead, increase the complexity of your organization by increasing the number of employees.  Realize that depending on which stage you are moving into you will go through one of these Transition Zones.  You can’t ignore these chaos zones, but you can begin to understand them, and you can create a language of growth that will help your employees understand what is happening and how you will move through it together.


About the Speaker

Amy Lafko founded Cairn Consulting Solutions with the knowledge that you need to grow your people to grow your business. Lafko focuses her work on a positive employee experience that is derived from skilled leaders and aligned teams. She provides expertise to improve the entire lifecycle of your team. Growth comes with challenges and Amy is certified in the 7 Stages of Growth.  Lafko has earned her MSPT from Ithaca College, her MBA from Loyola University of MD. As a national speaker, consultant, and facilitator, Lafko leverages over 20 years of professional leadership experience in several sectors of healthcare.

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