The Top Causes of The Plateau Pattern™: Drift Into Misalignment


Bob is the majority owner and President of a $16 Mil/year technology firm. The scope (complexity and size) of their client projects has steadily grown. A core group of people has been with Bob for several years.  One employee who started as a receptionist went back to school and now does the book keeping and invoices. The guy who used to lead installation teams now does purchasing and handles the equipment & parts rooms. Increased recruitment, training, and certification of client facing technical staff seems to be paying off, but lately it seems like everyone is just stretched too thin and spending too much time putting out fires and reacting. People don’t know what Bob will do next.

What do you think?  Is the company positioned for Growth? A plateau? Or implosion?

Although a vignette can never convey the whole story, there is enough information here to prompt some questions.   How much of the growth to $16 Mil has been intentional and strategic? At $16 Mil/yr of gross revenue, a technology firm with $10 Mil/yr in hardware/software sales and $6 Mil in service fees is very different from another technology firm with $6 Mil/yr in hardware/software sales and $10Mil/yr in service fees.  How intentional has the staffing been? It’s great that the receptionist was willing to go back to school to learn how to do book keeping, but at $16 Mil/yr, does Bob’s business need a Controller? How intentional has the organizational structure of Bob’s business been? Is he still the primary or only decision maker?  Are employees feeling scattered in part because Bob is also too busy?

There are several versions of the third top cause of The Plateau Pattern™.  Drift into misalignment is consultant-language.  I’ve also heard people describe it as a rudderless organization where the owner does not know how to approach truly Presidential decisions.  This can be viewed as The Peter Principle where a key person is promoted to a position over his/her capabilities.  Bob may have inadvertently promoted himself from “Owner of a Start up Business” to “President of a Midsized Enterprise” with insufficient preparation for the promotion. Bob may understand the clients’ technology needs far more than he understands his own company’s strategy, finances, and management. Bob may wish that he had gone back to school to earn his MBA when the receptionist was learning about book keeping.


About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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