Staying Small While Getting Big

Today, we wrapped up our two-day Drucker CEO Forum, an intimate gathering of two dozen top executives from Costco, Procter and Gamble, Starbucks, Kimberly-Clark, the American Red Cross, the Clinton Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and other organizations from across industry, the nonprofit world and government. Among the themes that clearly reverberated across sectors: How do you get big and stay small?

[EXPAND More]Clearly, there are no easy answers. Peter Drucker observed that as organizations grow, they tend to become more bureaucratic and less nimble, no matter what business they’re in. “There’s only one thing I can tell you,” Drucker warned one large public university—too large, in his opinion—that had asked for his advice. “By the year 2010, you’re going to have more vice presidents than you have students.”

The executives here in Claremont offered up a number of ideas about how their organizations could achieve scale while not drifting away from their original culture and practices. Among them: systematically reviewing and getting rid of unneeded forms and other paperwork; regularly rotating employees into different roles to keep them engaged; and rewarding failure as long as the organization learns something of value from it.

What are your tips for staying small as you get big?[/EXPAND]

What are your tips for staying small as you get big?