How have you managed the transition from a large international organisation and employer, to a smaller organisation?

What challenges have you had to overcome and how has your approach to doing business changed?

Jonathan Brooker

Experienced programmes and commercial director – telecoms / I.T. / media / manufacturing / business intelligence

I have a slightly different view.

I spent approximately 15+ years working in International and dealing with the cultures, politics, regulations and regional ethics of integrating systems and business process across 30+ countries. I was able to work with and touch almost every facet of the business and I had the luxury of a free hand to effect changes that had tangible impact.

My wife and I had our first child and I shifted gears to a domestic-only job with “no travel”, “low stress”, and “<80 hour work-weeks”. My personal life is much better, but it’s frustrating to lose the scope, influence and ability to see changes that you make impact hundreds or thousands of people across a global organization. It’s also difficult to see people repeat your mistakes and no longer be in a position to do anything about it.

I think that the transition pains have much more to do with your relative level and scope of influence within each organization rather than the actual large global/small domestic issue.

However, there are some generalizations:

Larger organizations usually have better process frameworks and more complex bureaucracy. Smaller organizations have better agility, but more chaos and things “slipping through the cracks”.

Larger organizations have much worse end-to-end integration (usually due to a lack of direct communication). Smaller organizations tend to have better internal alignment around goals.

Larger organizations have a “been there, done that” attitude to a lot of things. Smaller organizations are usually learning as they go.

Larger organizations present more opportunities with more competition. Smaller organizations have fewer opportunities, but the ones that are available tend to be much more significant.

Larger organizations have a much greater pool of talent that you can draw from. In a smaller organization, you have to play the hand that you’re dealt.

In some cases, moving to a smaller organization provides a greater ability to effect changes. However, if that organization already has strong leaders and you aren’t hired as one of them, it can be more difficult to have a voice.

My approach used to be “Bash your head against the wall until you see daylight”. Now it’s basically the beginning of the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.