In the last 7 years Community Christian Church has grown from one site and two services with 800 in attendance to seven sites with 20 services and 4200 attendance and a network of new churches (NewThing) But breakneck growth triggers new questions: How do you maintain a close-knit culture and find good people to bring into it? How do you keep the agility of small and develop the strength of big? These are the kinds of questions we have been dealing with most over the last couple months at CCC – how do we continue to reproduce at a rapid rate and also be a place of consistent quality?
How does a company get big and stay small? That’s the real challenge of growth. We open a new store every day and hire 500 people every month. In a little more than a decade, we’ve gone from 100 employees to almost 30,000. You can’t grow if you’re driven only by process, or only by the creative spirit. You’ve got to achieve a fragile balance between the two sides of the corporate brain. This balance is what lets a Starbucks district manager experiment in California with a coffee drink without permission from the top. That drink, Frappuccino, was such a local hit that we marketed it nationwide. It generated $100 million in revenues during its first year.
Growing successfully also means knowing when not to grow. For example, the business of artificially flavored coffee is growing dramatically. Each year, we have the opportunity to embrace that segment of the coffee market, which would translate into a 40% revenue increase. But for 27 years, we haven’t sold a drop of artificially flavored coffee, and we’re not going to start now — no matter how profitable it would be.
As you grow, you have to deal with the perception that what gets big gets bad. For example, some people believe that Starbucks represents homogenization. But we won’t let ourselves be put in a box that says “corporate behemoth.” In fact, we’re one of the only companies in America that gives equity and comprehensive health care to all of its employees, even part-time workers. At the same time, we have to guard against arrogance and cynicism, which would push us to embrace growth for growth’s sake.
What take-aways do you have for CCC? Or any multi-site/reproducing church?