Search results for: product lifecycle

Need a new search?

If you didn't find what you were looking for, try a new search!

It’s Not a Problem to Solve. It’s a Polarity to Manage.

I saw this image circulating around social media last week and I had to roll my eyes:

It’s not because I don’t believe in the values of “new management” thinking. Quite the contrary. It’s that making the shift from “old management” thinking to “new management” thinking is not a problem to solve. It’s a polarity to manage.

A problem is something to be dealt with or overcome. A polarity, on the other hand, is something to be managed on a continuum. Basically, anytime you are dealing with things that seem at odds with each other or paradoxical, you’re dealing with a polarity and not a problem.

Take the first line in the viral image above as an example. Are employees your biggest risk or your biggest asset? The answer is both! Hire the wrong employee or lose control of your HR compliance function and it won’t be too long before you’re served a very expensive and frivolous lawsuit. On the other hand, if you treat your employees like they’re not your greatest asset — like they can’t be trusted to use their common sense or act in the best interest of the company — then you’re going to engender a lot of resentment and apathy.

This meme, which is generating thousands of likes and shares, portrays New Management Thinking as the solution to the problem of Old Management Thinking. It’s actually not the solution. There is no problem to solve – just a polarity to manage.

Don’t treat polarities as problems to be solved or pay the price. Why? Because when a team treats a polarity to manage as a problem to snuff out — chanting all the while “Down with hierarchy!” “Down with meetings!” “Out with the old and in with the new!” — one polarity will be emphasized too much and the organization will experience even bigger problems.

A team like this wastes an inordinate amount of time and energy on the wrong things, leading to a lot of activity and little effectiveness. Their misguided efforts also make it harder for the good and necessary aspects of the opposite polarity to exist within the organization. The end result is an organization that is less resilient and adaptable to change.

As a leader, being able to discern the difference between a problem and a polarity will help you to build a culture that makes the right decisions about the right things. This is true even if, from an uneducated eye, those efforts can sometimes appear to be in support of “old” ways of thinking. But they are not old ways of thinking! You are just boosting up an aspect of a polarity that is needed in your organization at this period in time. Later on, you may boost up “new” ways of thinking, depending […]

By |2021-05-18T01:44:44-07:00May 17th, 2017|Articles|Comments Off on It’s Not a Problem to Solve. It’s a Polarity to Manage.

Real World Results

Real World Results:
It’s Hard and It Works

Organizational Physics is a proven framework for designing and scaling your business. Founder Lex Sisney is one of the world’s foremost experts in organizational structure and design. He has personally helped to transform several hundreds of companies, in 16 countries, and in industries as diverse as software-as-a-service (SAAS), machine learning, manufacturing, energy, consumer goods, health care, biotech, payments, hospitality, import/export, distribution, field services, mobile, publishing, and more.

The results speak for themselves: within 7 to 9 months after implementing Organizational Physics, most clients show a sustained 65 to 75% improvement in internal operating performance (as measured by them) and simultaneously realize a 2X to 3X increase in sales over the next 1 to 3 years. In fact, a handful of well-positioned clients have grown 10X in that time-frame, achieving multi-billion-dollar valuations.

Jump to:

Here is a sampling of some real-world results:

  • A $40M biotech start-up was struggling with management execution and coordinating across multiple geographies and product lines. The founder was a thought leader with a research background who definitely understood the technical side of his business. He was also a first-time CEO, however, and he was naturally overwhelmed with internal operational issues at scale, despite having a COO to support him. By better defining the next stage strategy and implementing a new organizational structure and design, this same CEO took the business to more than $100M in sales in under three years, with very lucrative margins. As of this writing, he has received two competing multi-billion ($B) buyout offers.
  • A $150M publicly traded consumer goods company was attempting to seize a new market opportunity but found itself going up against much larger, well-funded competitors. It had to innovate new product offerings while bringing together a complicated supply chain and distribution model. Of course, it also had to maintain and improve GMP quality standards. Using Organizational Physics, the company redesigned its structure, accelerated its execution speed on the new opportunities, won several best-in-category awards, and grew to become the number 1 or 2 competitor in its categories. The company is now valued at more than $1B and they are expanding into new international markets from a very strong foundation.
  • A five-year-old venture-backed start-up was growing fast and had reached 300 employees. But as it grew, its internal execution got more complex and things started to bog down. Inside the company, one part of the business was fighting against the other. There was also a lot of conflict between members of the founding team and new senior-level hires brought in to help the company scale. As a result, sales were flattening. By implementing Organizational Physics, this company created a new structure with clarified roles and responsibilities to support the expansion strategy. They also implemented an improved management execution process to bring the […]
By |2023-10-13T05:47:27-07:00December 26th, 2016|Comments Off on Real World Results

Top-down vs. Bottom-up Hierarchy: Or, How to Design a Self-Managed Organization

top-down-hierarchy-vs-bottom-up-designShould you run a top-down or a bottom-up organizational design?

Choosing “top-down” means giving the roles at the top of your organization significantly more control over key decisions than those lower in the hierarchy. Choosing “bottom-up” means having little to no centralized control so that those doing the work are free to organize, make decisions, and perform as they best see fit. Both camps have their own justifications.

The extremists in the top-down camp believe that an autocratic, hierarchical style of command-and-control decision-making is necessary for an organization to be successful and fulfill its purpose. In this case, strategies or plans are first conceived at the top of the organization and then cascaded down into the organization for implementation. When decisions from the bottom need to get made, they must first go to a qualified manager for approval. Deep down, the proponents of a top-down structure believe that if there isn’t an appropriate level of centralized control, the inmates will soon be running the jail and chaos will reign.

The top-down camp believes that without leadership and structure the whole enterprise will fall apart. The extremists in the top down camp believe that without a high level of centralized control the whole enterprise will quickly fall apart.

The extremists in the bottom-up camp believe just the opposite — that most forms of hierarchy are unnecessary and inefficient (if not outright evil). Their view is that a top-down hierarchy separates authority from those actually doing the work. Therefore, at its best, a top-down approach leads to cultures of disempowerment, resentment, and bureaucracy. At worst, it gives birth to autocratic tyrants who wield unchecked power, enriching themselves and their families at others’ expense.

The extremists in the bottom-up camp believe that most forms of hierarchy lead to tyranny. The extremists in the bottom-up camp believe that most forms of hierarchy lead to tyranny.

So who’s right?

Well, if you were to gauge the current zeitgeist in business and popular culture, you’d get a strong sense that the bottom-up camp is right camp to be in. Best-selling books and viral articles get published regularly that bemoan the old paradigm of top-down command and control as “so-last-century” while promoting an emerging new paradigm of self-managed, egalitarian organizations without bosses, titles, or anyone telling you what to do. Ahhhh. So refreshing.

But is it true? Let’s […]

By |2021-05-18T01:45:25-07:00October 13th, 2016|Articles|Comments Off on Top-down vs. Bottom-up Hierarchy: Or, How to Design a Self-Managed Organization

Predictable Revenue: How to Structure the Customer Success Role


“We believe that the future standard for all executive teams will include a head of Customer Success who’s on the same level as the head of Sales, Marketing, and Demand Generation.” – Aaron Ross

If you run a software-as-a-service (SAAS) business, you might already know about the core concepts behind Aaron Ross and Margaret Tyler’s book Predictable Revenue. Aaron Ross learned his craft as the head of customer acquisition for and this book seems to have become the hot new bible for scaling up the revenue side of a SAAS business.

The main theme of Predictable Revenue is that the single most important thing a SAAS business can do to scale revenues is to segment its Sales roles into distinct focus areas and also to create a new role in the organizational structure called “Customer Success” that is dedicated to making existing customers successful and driving renewals.

Lately, I’ve been getting asked frequently in my consulting practice about how to structure the Customer Success role. My sense is that there is some confusion out there about the distinction between Account Management and Customer Success. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use the principles of Organizational Physics to actually structure the Customer Success role so that your own SAAS business has the greatest probability of realizing its potential.

Role Segmentation: Always a Good Idea

Predictable Revenue argues that the major role of Sales is actually four roles that need to be segmented in the organizational structure:

  • “Inbound Lead Qualification” to qualify new leads coming into the business;
  • “Outbound Prospecting” to create and qualify new sales opportunities and then pass them to Sales or Account Executives to close;
  • “Account Executives or Sales” that close deals and carry a quota;
  • “Account Management/Customer Success” which is a role dedicated to making existing customers successful and driving renewals.

Does it make sense to segment these different sales roles? Absolutely. In fact, you should define and segment all of the major roles and most of the minor roles in your entire business — not just sales.

Segmenting by roles greatly supports scaling your business. It helps to create role clarity and accountability. It allows the right style of people to focus on the most important things for their roles. It significantly improves the hiring process. And with the right management process, it can significantly increase execution speed.

Predictable Revenue encourages the segmentation of sales roles earlier than one might think and I totally concur — but again, for all roles. Technically I would start to think through your organizational design and role segmentations in the mid- to late Nail It stage of business development. Heck, it doesn’t even cost anything to segment by roles if you don’t have the budget […]

By |2021-05-18T01:48:33-07:00March 18th, 2016|Articles|Comments Off on Predictable Revenue: How to Structure the Customer Success Role

Why You Should Not Have a President and COO

Photo credit: AudienceView. Photo credit: AudienceView.

It’s a classic tale. Your company’s driven, visionary founder manages to lead your start up to takeoff and hit rapid growth mode. But then something happens, and everything starts to bog down. Those former start up struggles and early wins turn into a whole new set of challenges: running the business at scale.

At about this time in an organization’s lifecycle, conversations in the board room and around the water cooler start to focus on the founder. See if you’ve said or heard any of these before:

  • Our founder has great energy and ideas (along with some really dumb ideas) but we still can’t seem to get our act together.
  • It’s no secret our founder isn’t an Operations person.
  • We need to either replace our founder or support her with someone experienced who can run day-to-day operations and keep the trains on time.
  • What we need is a President/COO. Then the founder/CEO can be Mr. Outside and the President/COO can be Mr. Inside.

Does any of that sound familiar? I bet it does. On the surface, having a President/COO can make a lot of sense. Every organization needs stability, structure, and experience if it is going to scale up. The approach is certainly popular. “President and COO” titles are so common—throw a stapler in the air at your local office park and you’re bound to hit one on the head.

But hiring a President/COO to solve the “founder” problem typically brings just a new set of problems, setbacks, and even disasters. In many cases I’ve seen, the new President/COO was a sure bet on paper but failed to replicate past successes in a new environment.

In another common scenario, you’ll find that soon after joining, the new President/COO will get into conflict with the founder/CEO about who really runs the business. When this happens, the culture quickly erodes into “old guard” vs. “new guard” and execution speed bogs down across the board from all the in-fighting and politics.

There’s also a little appreciated but equally severe problem that happens when the founder leaves the business too soon, now that “the professionals are in charge” or because “it’s just not that much fun around here anymore,” and the company fails to capitalize on its true potential over time.

While hiring and integrating capable senior leaders into the organization is needed and necessary to scale your business (I’ll show you how to do this here), the popular approach of having a President/COO to oversee business execution usually turns out to be a fix that is much worse than the original problem.

I’ve coached many founder-led, high-growth companies to increasing revenues and profits without a traditional President/COO and without mistakenly consolidating business functions together. I can say with confidence that there is a better way to build great leadership to […]

By |2023-02-09T08:27:19-08:00February 18th, 2015|Articles|Comments Off on Why You Should Not Have a President and COO

The Difference Between Organizational Structure and an Org Chart

“What’s the difference between an organizational structure and an organizational chart? Do you need one or the other—or both—to manage your business?” I get asked different versions of this question a lot. The distinctions are subtle but important. Knowing the answers—and approaching your organizational design the right way—is mission-critical to scaling your business.

The short answer is this. In most cases, if you’re entering a new stage for your business—scaling beyond start-up mode or embarking on a new growth strategy—you’ll need a new organizational design. And when it comes to organizational design, you really only need two things:

  1. A well-designed organizational structure
  2. A “role-centric” human resource management system (HRMS) that mirrors the structure

That’s it. You do not need a classic org chart—that constantly-changing and almost instantly-out-of-date diagram that shows names, job titles, and lines of reporting responsibilities. The org chart tends to quickly become obsolete and leads to a counterproductive focus on who’s where in the organizational pecking order…

You don't want this. You don’t need this. Photo credit Pathfinder.

Trying to maintain a classic org chart—or, heaven-forbid, to redesign your business based on one—causes much more harm than good. So drop the classic org chart and instead embrace the principles of effective organizational structure combined with a role-centric HRMS. Here’s what you need to know…

Are You Attempting to Redesign Your Business from an Org Chart?

It should be intuitive that, in order to manage and scale your business, you need a sound organizational design. As I’ve written in “The 5 Classic Mistakes in Organizational Structure: Or, How to Design Your Organization the Right Way,” everything has a design to it. If your business design sucks, then your execution will too.

Changing an organizational structure can be very challenging because there’s a lot of inertia tied up in the status quo. Individual perceptions of job status, internal politics, titles, compensation, and desired career paths can make changing your structure seem complicated, if not daunting. Many companies set themselves up for failure by attempting to redesign the organization from an existing org chart. When this happens, it sounds something like this…

“OK, so what if we have Sally and Mike report to Jeff, Jeff report to Ron and Ron and Helen will split reporting responsibilities? That could work. Wait.. what… Helen is leaving now? Damn. OK, how about if instead Peter takes over for Ron and Ron can head up the new product line? No, that won’t work because Ron’s ego is as big as the Grand Canyon and he’ll feel like he’s taking a step backward. Shit. This is complicated. I guess we’ll just stick with the status quo, even though we all know it’s not working well at all.”

If you ever find yourself in a […]

By |2023-09-20T09:07:17-07:00February 9th, 2015|Articles|Comments Off on The Difference Between Organizational Structure and an Org Chart



Organizational Physics provides real-world answers to some of the most vexing challenges faced by organizational leaders:

  • Success. How do you have greater success and satisfaction?
  • Management. How to build and manage powerhouse teams?
  • Strategy. How to always choose the right strategy?
  • Execution. How to execute fast?

Jump to:

Podcast Intro

Part I: Listen to Lex being interviewed by a former client, Chris Powers on the Fort Podcast. It’s a good intro to the first-principles behind Organizational Physics.

Listen on: Apple  | Spotify | YouTube

Part II: Listen in as former client Chris Powers, host of the Fort with Chris Powers, interviews his business partner Jason Baxter as they do a real-time 2021 Year in Review at Fort Capital. I didn’t know that Chris and Jason were going to discuss the impact Organizational Physics had made on their already successful business. It was fun and humbling for me to hear them speak about their experience and new perspectives in their own words. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Listen on: Spotify | Apple | Youtube

Part III: This is the Fort Podcast Year End Review for 2022. It is important to notice that the design, mindset, and language of Organizational Physics are still present, but the founders are now focused on scaling their business, not operating Organizational Physics! By design, Organizational Physics principles have faded into the background, and the founders and their company are having a ton of fun growing their business in the right way. Our collaboration in 2020 was short-lived, but its benefits are long-lasting.

Listen on:Spotify | Apple | Youtube

Organizational Physics 101 Tutorials

OP 101 TutorialsWatch the 5-part video series Organizational Physics 101 below to learn the principles that lead to breakthrough levels of performance. Then download one of our “old school” or “new school” infographic cheat sheets to aid your retention. :-)

Introduction to Organizational Physics

How to Have Greater Success & Satisfaction

Learn more about how to have greater success and happiness:

How to Build & Manage Powerhouse Teams

Learn more about the Four Styles of Management:

By |2023-06-04T06:44:07-07:00May 2nd, 2014|Comments Off on Tutorials

About PSIU Assessments

PSIU Assessments:
Gain Quick, Practical Insights into Others & Self

If you manage people or projects, I don’t need to tell you that your job is challenging. You have finite time and energy each day to try to get the best from your direct reports and teams. You also need to make smart hiring decisions. So how do you do it?

If you’re an experienced manager, you already try to align people into roles that play to their strengths and passions. But if you’re honest, you’ll also admit that accomplishing this feat in an ever-changing work environment is easier said than done.

If I told you there was a simple, accurate, and cost-effective tool to better understand your staff and hire great talent, would you want to learn how?  If your answer is “Yes!” – like most of my CEO clients – then here’s something you’ll want to know about…

What I’m sharing with you is one of the most powerful breakthrough tools I’ve learned in my career as an entrepreneur and organizational coach. It’s the foundation for much of the work I do with my clients and I’ve seen it deliver amazing turnarounds over and over.

This breakthrough tool is called the PSIU Talent Management Suite – a suite of online style assessments and actionable reports that are faster, simpler, and more applicable to real-world business settings than traditional psychological tests.

The PSIU Talent Management suite gives you easy access to everything you need to assess the work styles of your current staff and teams – and then match them to the right roles where they can thrive.

You will boost team-wide productivity and job satisfaction, as well as address any gaps through specific and actionable steps. You will also master the process of making consistently great hires, easily identifying your candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, working style, blind spots, and more – so you can choose only the right talent for your organization.

What’s Wrong with Traditional Type Indicators?

Traditional style or type indicators, most of which were created mid-last-century, attempt to explain the psychological underpinnings of why a person behaves the way they do. While this may be a fascinating area of study and self-reflection, from a management perspective, who cares?

Think about it. Does it really help you to know if your VP of Sales is an INTJ or an ISFP Myers-Briggs Type? Can you even remember what those damn letters mean? From a management perspective, what you really want to know is whether your VP of Sales has a style match for what you need in the role now (this changes based on the lifecycle stage of your business and existing team dynamics) and if he or she is happy and productive in that role. If not, you want to know what to actually do about it.

Or, if you’re in the market to hire a new CFO and you […]

By |2023-09-25T06:56:17-07:00April 21st, 2014|Comments Off on About PSIU Assessments

An Inside Look at Holacracy

Zappos-3-MashableThe headlines rolled across my feed like the credits on a blockbuster movie. Something big seemed to be happening but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It seemed that Zappos—the popular business management poster child for happy employees and customers—just announced it was adopting some new-fangled “boss-less,” “hierarchy-less,” “structure-less” management system called Holacracy.

“Hola-what?” I said to myself as I started clicking links. Aimee Groth at Quartz wrote: “Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy,” while the Washington Post headlined with, “Zappos Says Goodbye To Bosses,” and the Canadian Broadcast Company led with “Holacracy management style eliminates all bosses, titles.”

I’ve been around long enough to know that what the media was reporting would be far removed from the truth. I also had the inkling that the level of publicity that Zappos generates made it likely that Holacracy would become the next buzzword in management in 2014. Paul Herbert captured it well: “A new word crept into HR’s vernacular last week: holacracy. Better get used to seeing it.”

Each year I attend two personal/professional development workshops for my own education and growth. After trying to make sense of Holacracy through their website materials and recorded webinars, in the spirit of exploration I decided to dive deeper and make Holacracy one of my annual workshops. I signed up for their 1/2-day Taster Workshop followed by a 5-day Practitioner Certification Training in Las Vegas hosted by Holacracy founder Brian Robertson.

A few weeks later I hopped in my car to make the trek from my home in Santa Barbara across the desert to Vegas. The seminar turned out to be located just down the block from the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop of History Channel fame. As I drove by their shop at 1pm on a Friday, there was a line of people down the entire block. “Note to self,” I murmured while rubber necking the crowd, “this is what a reality TV can do for your small business.”

I parked and found my way to the seminar, located on the third floor of a secured building. I buzzed the intercom, walked up three flights of stairs, and entered the room where I’d spend the next week. I noted there were about 25+/- people gathered around circular conference tables and a standard lecture area at the front. I found a spot, put down my stuff and, with a mixture of curiosity and anticipation, made small talk with my fellow attendees, a surprising number of whom were French nationals, while waiting for the seminar to start.

Little did I know then what a struggle that entire week — and even several weeks after digesting my experience — would be for me. What did I struggle with? First, I found […]

By |2021-05-18T02:00:00-07:00March 9th, 2014|Articles|Comments Off on An Inside Look at Holacracy

Buy the Book: *How to Think About Hiring*

Buy the Book: *How to Think About Hiring*

How to Think About Hiring: Play Smarter to Win the Talent Game is available now in Kindle or paperback on Amazon.

This is a book about breakthrough thinking in hiring and talent management. It’s designed specifically for CEOs, department heads, hiring managers, and anyone else seeking an edge in how they think about hiring. It will equip you with a powerful framework for understanding who to hire, who not to hire, and how to build a high-performing team.

The framework that you’ll learn in this little e-book is simple, powerful, and timeless. No matter how complex or chaotic the world of talent management might seem on the surface, there are some basic principles at work underneath it. When you understand the principles, you can execute a winning process.

Key Takeaways

Buy How to Think About Hiring and learn how to:

  • Avoid the most common hiring mistakes
  • Find and recruit better talent faster
  • Ask the interview questions that really matter
  • Use a hiring “draft board” to choose the best hires
  • Make hiring a strategic business advantage

What Other Leaders Are Saying

jackmula “What you will find in the pages of How to Think About Hiring speaks to what made the New England Patriots such a winning organization. Indeed, Lex has captured the essence of what we were doing better than anyone else I’ve read – and believe me, many have tried. But let me be clear, this book isn’t about the Patriots or the NFL. It is about defining the very foundation for how any elite organization should think about hiring and then integrate leading-edge management theory and real-world experience, making those principles easy to apply and scale. It’s really a book for any leader in any organization who wants to leverage their approach to talent acquisition and management to create a competitive advantage and sustained winning environment. I hope and trust you will enjoy this book as much as I have, and I encourage you to put its principles into practice. If you do, you and your team will be sure to reap the benefits.”
– Jack Mula, Former General Counsel/Player Personnel, New England Patriots

jeff_hunter“Organizational Physics set the bar very high for this book. Fortunately for the reader, “How to Think About Hiring” delivers what has come to be expected, and more.

In the same way that Organizational Physics established an applicable framework for organizing people and product in the business lifecycle, “How to Think About Hiring” has established an accessible and repeatable framework to seamlessly navigate the complicated process of hiring. This framework leads to capturing top talent, and eliminating as much entropy as possible for both the interviewer and interviewee throughout the process.

Overall, this title builds […]

By |2019-02-27T19:27:29-08:00February 18th, 2014|Comments Off on Buy the Book: *How to Think About Hiring*
Go to Top