Keeping the Pace: Planning in Hypergrowth Companies

by HPA Senior Consultant Raaj Chitaley

Businesses pursuing hypergrowth initiatives or those in a perpetual state of hypergrowth can frequently face a challenge: While they may quickly win in new markets and rapidly take share from incumbents, this very speed exposes weaknesses in core processes critical to sustaining hypergrowth. They simply can’t keep up. Solving with traditional planning methods and tools may trigger “organ rejection” from the organization, compounding the problem. All along the way, management and planning infrastructure can lag further and further behind growth initiatives.

If this sounds familiar, here are some no-nonsense steps to building a sustainable foundation when navigating hypergrowth:

Get serious about resource management with a resource census.

Laying the groundwork for informed decision-making starts with a data-driven understanding of resource allocation. A shocking number of hypergrowth CEOs, CFOs, and business unit GMs don’t know where and how constrained resources – often engineers, operations, or sales headcount – are being used. Changing priorities and execution can frequently outpace existing planning processes.

A solution is to start with a resource census that aims for a simple count of who is working on what projects. A resource census exposes both over- and under-resourced areas, and timing and skill mismatches that might be fixable without additional investment. Using existing tools like HR systems to track new employees, contingent staff, manage/role changes, etc. can help speed up the census and reduce the burden (both actual and perceived) for line managers. Having this kind of transparency will help you to make better-informed prioritization and staffing decisions.

Use stage gates to bring an agility mindset to planning.

Conventional planning methodologies often struggle to keep pace with the rapid evolution of business needs and market dynamics because they are firmly connected to time. Traditional planning often assumes a relatively average rate of progress in both investment and results over a given period. This is a practical and necessary feature of planning in larger, mature businesses.

In a hypergrowth environment, time and schedules are often the least understood and predictable element of planning. By the time traditional plans are captured, the execution path may have already shifted, rendering them outdated. Tie hypergrowth initiatives to outcomes and metrics instead of just time: for example, achieving a product/feature milestone or certain number of customers; successfully passing a stage gate then unlocks additional investments – and corresponding expected results. For the purposes of traditional planning, multiple initiatives can be aggregated for inclusion into traditional management tools.

Plan pre-mortems in advance to review and end projects.

Launching new initiatives is exciting; it’s why people like to work in hypergrowth businesses. The natural outcome is often too many projects, projects below the radar (intentionally or not), and “walking dead” projects that exist simply because they continue to exist. No leader wants to be known as the person who killed project XYZ. Instead, every planning cycle should have a pre-planned list of projects for pre-mortem review.

Building a list of projects to be reviewed in advance is a forcing function that reduces internal in-the-moment political pressure and bias to keep projects alive longer than they should be. In combination with a resource census and stage gates, a pre-mortem is a crucial opportunity to objectively evaluate ongoing projects to ensure they continue to align with your strategic goals and are well-executed. Hypergrowth companies must be comfortable stopping underperforming projects to free up resources for higher-impact areas that offer greater opportunities for growth. Strategy is about choice, even more so in hypergrowth. Ending projects should be part of the organization’s management rhythm, leadership expectations, and learning culture.

Speaking of culture … it’s not all data and planning.

Cultivate a culture of communication across the organization.

When building up the core processes to support sustained hypergrowth, communication across the broader organization is essential. Hypergrowth businesses are often siloed either within themselves or from other mature businesses in the enterprise. This increases the risk of under-scaled surround infrastructure (think: billing systems, customer support, etc.), or worse “square peg round whole” failure to adapt core processes for hypergrowth needs. Upfront planning for this integration with open, transparent communication will avoid costly delays and can build trust and foster collaboration with the enterprise.

Sustainable hypergrowth is neither a marathon nor a sprint – it’s a marathon of sprints! So, embrace an eyes-wide-open understanding of where you are applying resources, a data-driven adaptability in planning, and an explicit willingness to reprioritize to sustain hypergrowth success.

Achieve greater, sustainable growth with HighPoint Associates.

Our team of practical strategists with insider credentials brings clarity to strategic imperatives and rapid leadership alignment to drive results. How? We’ve served on internal management teams alongside classical strategy training, and we’ve learned how to establish priorities and guide decision alignment. If your company is embarking on a corporate, business unit, or go-to-market strategy with hypergrowth goals, our team will partner with your executive team to assure success. Contact HighPoint Associates to start the conversation.

RAAJ CHITALEY is a senior technology strategy leader and operator with 20+ years of experience leading growth initiatives across software / SaaS, cloud services, AI, devices, and telecom. He spent over 12 years at Microsoft in strategy and business development leading a team focused on strategy and partnerships in key growth and incubation businesses such as Microsoft Teams. Raaj has also served in multiple ‘Chief of Staff’ and strategic/financial planning roles at leading technology businesses, where he was responsible for orchestrating senior leadership operations, leading day-to-day problem solving as a CEO proxy with other executives and customers, and driving executive and Board of Director communications. Raaj began his career with the Boston Consulting Group, where he led initiatives in strategy, operations and M&A/PMI for clients in the technology, media, and products industries.