Understanding Company Productivity, High Performers and Amoebas
I’ve seen a lot of high-performers enter slow-moving companies, make great progress, but then get upset. They can’t seem to move the company along anymore. What’s going on? Is it ok to move on? I’ve got a theory about all of this.
So, the average slow-moving company is a huge amoeba-like blob moving forward with 100s of people slowly doing their work. When a star performer comes in, they bust in from the back and work their way up the ranks. Add a couple of these at the same time and you’ll see the company start to speed up. But, only a little bit.
Near the end of the powerful employee’s tenure, they’ll feel distraught. Why can’t they seem to move the company forward like they used to. Is it time to leave? (Hint: yes).
Here’s why this happens.
A company is say 100 people moving at a speed of 5 (the average worker’s ability). If you enter a few people throughout the year at 4’s and 6’s, you’re still on your average 5. Now, let’s say you enter a 1 or 2. When they get in the big bubble, they stick towards the back. The company’s walls are thick enough to keep moving them forward – as long as they don’t struggle or push against it.
Enter the 8, 9 or 10. People near this person will get excited and upgrade from a 5 to a 6 or 7. So now, we have a nice 9, and a circle around them going 6 and 7. Whadya know - the whole company is now moving forward on a slightly average faster speed - a bunch of 5s but the curve is higher now because of the 6, 7’s and then that powerful 9.
Imagine two or three of these 9 or 10 people in the company - crazy!
So, they start from behind and they slice through the company. Before they know it, though, they’ve hit the front wall of the company amoeba. Remember, I said the company’s walls are strong enough to contain you if you don’t fight it. But, these talented performers can’t help it. They’re moving too fast forward. They start to break the walls, causing pain and discomfort. The company could never actually keep up - it was just a long distance to get through - and now they’re breaching out. Then, they’ve gone and left the company.
This is also likely why star-performers seem to have a lot of ‘bad stories’ about them right before they left. Like “I don’t know what his problem was - he was so good, then he just started bucking and fighting everything.” These stories are the byproduct of that performer slowly breaching the company wall on their way out.
The more great performers companies get, the faster the average of the company will be. But, there will always be faster performers giving you little jump starts and busting through. You got to experience the value of their performance for a while - while they visited you - feel happy about this, feel grateful.
Tend to your back wall. Your momentum will slow down as you have more and more people laying on that back wall. Never fighting it, so they don’t fall out, but not helping move the company forward. Before you know it, this lowers the company’s momentum forward.