We have all done business with small company teams. We know everyone working on the team and hope they succeed and grow.
Over time, they do succeed and grow bigger. Now, they’ve become an organization as they’ve got people in specialized roles working to serve us well. Along the way, they’ve added a few extra policies and procedures – some of which don’t really improve the experience. But, for the most part, we still care about them. As a customer, we know we matter to them.
Then, one day, they make a decision – sometimes implicit – to stop treating us as people and start treating as numbers. We always had a customer number or ID. But, now, that ID is central. It doesn’t matter if we come or go. We’re just a statistic. Writing to them doesn’t matter because employees don’t have to time to waste with the average customer.
The same corporations, if successful, continue to grow so big that they also begin to treat their employees the same way. And, over time, that results in their inevitable decline. They might still be large behemoths for an extra few decades given their sheer size. But, their obituary has already been written.
Teams and organizations become corporations the day everyone in their organizations is taught to treat customers as numbers. As a result, the relevant question for most successful teams and organization that are doing well is not – “Can we scale?”
It is – “Can we scale while still treating our customers and employees as people?”
That’s the question great organizations are built on.