During a recent discussion with an engineer who was considering having us build him a workstation, he made a comment about our company: "You're big enough, but not too big."
I've been thinking about what he said. And more importantly what he meant by that statement. Here's what I believe he was getting at:
You are big enough to keep your promises, but not so big that I feel like a number.
You are big enough to get your hands on the latest technology, but not so big you can't customize it to my needs.
You are not so large that, if something goes wrong, you have a mountain of policies that shield you from listening to me.
When companies start out, it's not uncommon for their leaders to project an image which is larger than actuality. That's understandable because growth (more employees, larger offices, etc.) is a visible sign of success that leadership can point to. Yet when companies become so large, they often tout how they still maintain "small business" values.
Take almost any bank ad on TV. No matter the size of the financial institution, they tell us how they are still the neighborhood bank whose tellers remember your name and every transaction ends with a jovial shaking of hands.
At Puget Systems, we don't attempt to project an image that's any larger than we are. We are proud of our growth over the years, but only to the extent that we can maintain our personal level of service and support our customers expect from us.
This weekend, I visited an Italian restaurant that was "big enough, but not too big."
It is located in a small but well-maintained building, yet I was skeptical since I'd never heard of it before. I decided to give it a try. Our waiter answered a number of questions I had about their entrees. I then mentioned that I'd like to order the chicken parmesan as long as their marinara sauce didn't include large pieces of onion.
Our waiter said, "Just a moment, I'll be right back."
She returned with a bowl of marinara sauce and a plate of fresh bread. "Go ahead and try it yourself", she said. I felt like she genuinely wanted to make sure I'd enjoy whatever entree I ordered. I've patronized many larger, more recognizable Italian restaurants, but none have offered better service than what I received that evening.
What are some signs you've noticed that a company has grown too large?