I’ll call the title of this post “Dave’s Observation.”
He is reflecting his experience in varied industries that if a company grows beyond its ability to deliver quality product, on time, then order volume will drop until it reaches a point that performance returns.
The business literature is full of examples of this – companies who could not keep up with their own success, their performance deteriorates and, well, many of them go out of business.
I have seen more than a few companies with aggressive growth plans that outrun their ability to actually execute, and they get into trouble.
This also happens in mergers and acquisitions where one company is merged into another with the assumption that the combined company can execute and perform in ways neither company has ever done. Starry-eyed executives often look only at the financial models, maybe equipment capacity, and skip over the operational aspects of their due diligence.
In the end, though, if the operational capability is not there, then none of the plans actually matter. Your “synergy” or “economy of scale” will evaporate like an ice cube on the Moon until equilibrium is restored.
Bottom line: If you are engaged in an ambitious growth plan, then list everything that has to be different for your model to work.
By “different” I mean you are asking for or expecting some task execution or level of performance that does not exist today as a matter of mundane routine.
Then ask “What is our plan to close this gap?” – and run the same exercise on executing that plan. “Change” is really hard, and just telling people what needs to be different, no matter how pretty the PowerPoint slides are, no matter how slick the presentation is, won’t make anything change. (If anything, it often breeds cynicism because it is read as unrealistic.)
Change requires step-by-step, methodical, practice to anchor each small change into the system, then the next, then the next.
Toyota Kata offers a good pattern for this. Just don’t confuse the underlying pattern with the methods used to teach it.