Copy of a Copy

Expansion is a intense path to trek. Many companies talk today about ‘scaling’ (which is just a fancy term for ‘growing’) their businesses. And in this scaling process said businesses aim to replicate their exact models in different cities or locations. Some examples would be expanding restaurant chains, online businesses focused on the hyper-local (original idea for Epic Day), and any franchise under the sun. Where many of them run into road blocks is their lack of processes and ultimately their lack of training, I have experienced this first hand.

Michael Keaton starred in a movie released in 1996 about a man who clones himself, called Multiplicity. And as one of the greatest actors of the late 80’s/early 90’s shows us, we cannot make a copy of a copy. If something is going to be replicated, it needs to be replicated from the original template. If not, the copies begin to get farther and farther away from their core template. What might appear as a small blemish on the first copy, tends to come out as huge skid mark on the copy of that copy.

When I trained sales people I would run across this issue frequently: We would train a new store owner on the processes and techniques to sell furniture and then they would teach their sales people. After we taught the store owners, they would not always retain the information we gave them and some would intentionally leave out parts and add their own twists. The details are irrelevant, what is important is that they changed what was taught and the template had now shifted. Then the store owner would train their new hires to sell furniture based on how they did it. The same would happen with the new sales people: change some, add some, drop some. So by the time many sales people were in action they had moved so far off the beaten path, aka the core sales process we ware teaching, that they were in a world of their own. I did my best to teach the exact same processes each time during training classes so when these sales people made their way to me, I could get them back on track and as close to the core process as possible.

This is relevant because businesses looking to ‘scale’ today need to understand that having a plan in place and process to follow is crucial to the long-term development of the business during expansion. If there is not a defined process in place and the scaling of the business hinges on exact or even remote replication of that core idea, than the growth will not take the path originally planned. For some organizations that is OK, autonomy is good, and they are content with variations from location to location. But for others, the scale needs to be exact and calculated because the processes are what create success for the organization.