It's Time to Empower Middle Management
In October, we ran an internal survey about the company and working conditions. The results were encouraging and indicated significant employee satisfaction. However, there were some indications of things that we were lacking. After a thorough review of the survey results, we concluded that what was missing was dispersed decision making which would be possible by empowering middle management.
Ideally, if middle management had more power and some control over the company's decision making, it would be like a car having a computer and a motor in charge of each tire. It is a dispersed decision-making style versus the current centralized one. As the business size has increased, we need to allocate responsibilities accordingly.
The other day, while conversing with an employee who has been working at e-Jan for ten years, I had a chance to reflect on the past decade. In 2007, we were in a 90 meter-squared office, without windows, and behind a garage. We were a group of about 10 members; some of the current department groups are larger than that! It is amazing how the team of ten dealt with all the requirements of the business, such as planning, development, testing, sales, support, administration, etc.
In 2007, luckily, we had three major distributors/resellers sign a contract with us: Softbank, Otsuka-Shoukai, and Ricoh. It was before iPhone was introduced in Japan and feature phones were dominant in the Japanese market. CACHATTO was the winner in the market, that was why some companies wanted to become our business partners as distributors or resellers.
At the time, I was playing with a newly released iPod Touch and an iPhone 2G imported from the States. In 2008, as soon as iPhone 3G was introduced in Japan, we improved CACHATTO to be compatible with iPhone. Because of that we gained a lot of attention from the market. It took about two years until we saw real business growth, but our iPhone compatibility made us stand out from our competitors, and we had the #1 share in Japan as a remote access service.
As the business grew, we expanded the size of the office and number of employees. The size of the company is defined by the market. If the market accepts your product, then your company would grow. It seems we supplied the market with something right, thus the company has grown about 10X what we used to be ten years ago.
The increase in the size of our business required new systems and new rules applied to various areas. Empowering middle management became a significant one. Since my goal is to experience and observe the growth of the company from scratch to an enterprise, I welcome the changes and I am excited to see how things will unfold.