Developing people in a growing and thriving organization is critical to the future of the organization. The ability of the organization to succeed in the long-term is defined by the depth of people ready and equipped to take their next step in leading.
During the MLB postseason in October of 2022, the Houston Astros went into Game 3 of their division series ahead by two games. Winning this game would clinch that series for them. After 17 innings, neither team had scored a run. When the Astros finally scored a run in the top of the 18th inning, then finished out the game 1-0, they tied the now four-way record for longest postseason game in MLB history. The Mariners went through 10 pitchers, while the Astros used 8. A big part of the Astros’ win in that game was the depth of their bullpen. Even with every other position doing their job the rest of the game, if the bullpen had run dry, there likely would have been a very different outcome. When they got into the 18th inning, though, they still had pitchers equipped and ready to go in a postseason game of that level of significance. The same is true in an organization. For sustainability and growth, the organization has to have a strong foundation ready to go.
How is this accomplished? It starts with having a plan in place for growth. Just like when you are planning a road trip, first you have to know where you want to go, then decide the route you will take to get there. Designing structure for an organization is similar. Know where you want to end up, then start heading in that direction. Draw out the dream structure for your organization, what it could look like ten years down the road in a perfect world. This is the time for dreaming big. “It would be amazing if we could _____” or, “Maybe one day we can have a designated group who can really take ownership and run with _______”. Dream big. This is the fun part. There are no limits to what can be dreamed.
After the destination has been established, figure out realistically where you are now. Circle the positions you already have established on the dream structure you drew out. This is your starting point. The department that you ultimately you want to have multiple people doing more specific things? That may all be one person right now who is a jack of all trades. But here’s where it gets fun… that one person can grow and pour into other people, giving away their job bit by bit, taking that area to whole new levels. As they give away their role, the organization’s foundation and ability to grow is strengthened.
Next determine which of those positions you already have filled with the correct people. More importantly… who do you know who could grow into those roles? Who is on your bench who can be poured into and trained to rise to those roles over time? Who has potential, whether they believe it or not? Who has the unique skill set that can take that area to the next level? Start there. Find two or three people who you can invest in, cast a vision of where you are going, then release them to run in that direction.
Now look at your dream structure again. What is missing? Which areas are you lacking? Where do your immediate priorities need to be? Pick one area and focus on taking that to the next level. I like to constantly rate the areas I oversee on a scale of 1-10. The areas that are my priorities need to stay at a constant 7 or above. Other areas I might be ok with leaving at a 2 while other things get my focus. I am constantly evaluating which area needs taken from a 2 to a 5, though. The very next question I ask myself is who can take it there. Cast vision and release.
Growing and evolving an organization is about constantly evaluating, pivoting, reevaluating, and tweaking. There is never going to be a finish line. That’s kind of the point, though. As long as your process involves people being developed, equipped, and launched, the organization will continue to be sustainable and grow.
By: Ashlee Knuston