Updated: Jun 6, 2019
So, as you all know, GSL is a growing organisation. We were a fresh, new start-up in 2011 and from that point we've grown, and grown and, you guessed it, ... grown. You've probably also picked up that growth brought growing pains. Some more painful than others. Between 2015-2017 the growth was exponential and everything we had built to that point, broke. Our procedures, our operating systems and our ability to communicate effectively.
Today we have just topped 90 employees, so in the grand scale of things we are still relatively small. The beginnings are still fresh in my memory, so 90 feels incredibly large, but it's not and this is our saving grace. We are still small enough to move nimbly and reconfigure ourselves as needed.
When growth was happening and everyone was highly invested in getting their own job done, we didn't have anyone available to set direction. Yes, we did the strategic and business plans but then we fell into the age old trap of not referring back to them. Plans are a great thing, and I am definitely a fan. I am also a big fan of goals. It's just that I think plans can only be a guide because life has a way of taking us in a different direction. It opens possibilities we hadn't included in our plan, and it throws challenges that weren't on the foreseeable horizon.
Something we have learned from our growth is that GSL is needed. We were able to seed a concept in a grant funded market and attract families. We were able to build a customer base and grow. On reflection this was an almost impossible business market environment, and yet we did it. We have weathered the transition to NDIS (not without a few shared tears) and now we are operating in an open market. This is a whole new world! This opens immense possibilities for growth, so now we need to focus on being good at growth.
Our solution is to focus on letting go of formal procedures and structures, and turn our attention to strengthening our values and purpose. Sound a little counter-intuitive? I know right! We are being guided by many clever thought leaders and business people, and although it feels like we are about to go into free fall; it feels right.
Our job now is to make sure all team members understand broader organisational values and purpose, work on growing a culture of trust and respect, strengthening teams, and then hand over the reigns. In this way GSL can run itself. If people feel the confidence to come up with ideas, scope them, share them and then run with them, the limitless possibilities within GSL's future become an exciting unknown.
While we are finding our groove and testing new grounds of handing over the reigns, our worry is misalignment. Yesterday I was in a meeting with Sarah and Shannyn (wonderful GSL team members!) talking about this very topic (which, of course was inspiration for this blog) and we had a giggle about the very real possibility of this type of scenario popping up:
We believe firmly the answer is to invest in people understanding our values and purpose. With this, people will know how to make good decisions that are in alignment with broader organisational direction and activities. Only the other day, Nettie posted 'Sinek says: "Values have to be verbs. Values are things we do' in response to watching this little clip: Simon Sinek: How Verbs are Useful When Setting Measurable Goals The quest now is to dig deep and find words (verbs) to express our values. Easier said than done, me thinks!