Book Review: Taking Some of the Sting Out of Growing Pains
Book Title and Edition: Growing Pains: Transitioning from an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm
Author: Dr. Eric G. Flamholtz and Dr. Yvonne Randle
Condensed Review/Thesis: Your business started with a spark of innovation. As it grows, Flamholtz and Randle explain how to tend the fire so it doesn't burn out - or blaze out of control.
Authors' Background: Dr. Flamholtz is a professor of management at UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management and cofounder of Management Systems Consulting Corporation. Dr. Randel, an expert in strategic planning, organizational culture, and effective organizational structures, is the consultancy's executive VP.
Intended Audience: Entrepreneurs and leaders determined to develop fledgling businesses into professionally managed enterprises - while alleviating (and avoiding) some of the inevitable growing pains.
Larry's Two Cents: If you think back to your grad school or MBA days fondly, this book will bring it all rushing back. Yes, Growing Pains reads like a textbook. And yes, it is like sitting in an 8:00 am lecture when you just got to bed at 3:00 am. The academic tone can be tough to stick with - but worth it because businesses move through predictable, and distinct, phases as they grow. Each demands different structures, systems, and areas of specialization; Flamholtz and Randle offer a useful, if dry, guide.
As the leader, if you're not aware of what phase your company is in, you risk leading it astray. If you cannot recognize that the organization is changing - or needs to change - you risk leading it down a path that diverges further and further from sustainable growth. Success will be difficult, if not impossible.
They say that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it; that may have been the case in grad school. In business, if you don't understand how to recognize and navigate the stages of growth, you do not get a do-over. Read this book to identify where your company is - and learn how to bring it to the next level.
When To Read This Book: As soon as possible if you want to understand the issues you are facing, and will be facing as you grow your business.