“A more efficient and effective organizational nervous system” – combination of instincts and skills to survive and deliberately developed new strengths to thrive. Those new strengths include developing leaders, customer focus and business excellence. That comes from my conversation with Sarah Pettengill and CEO Jan Jamrich about their work at Entromy.

Instincts and skills to survive – The new normal

Results driven. Passionate. Filled with ambitious individuals.

They report “Results-driven” as the top cultural attribute for companies growing slower than the competition. In fact, the top three cultural characteristics for slower growing companies were “results-driven,” “individual ambition,” and “passionate.”

These are companies are getting the basics right: Improving technology. Clarifying roles and capabilities. Aligning organization on top priorities.

Improving technology:

  • Executives are pushing back against the proliferation of single-point solutions and the headaches they create when systems “don’t talk to each other.” New solutions that are not integrated with older systems are only creating more challenges to achieving a holistic view of the business.
  • Expect greater demand for long-term, more comprehensive technology tools that are not quick fixes and address multiple pain points.

Clarifying roles and capabilities:

  • The idea of a “flat” organization is disappearing, starting with the tech industry. Entromy recently worked with a rapidly growing consumer tech firm that was viewed as an industry standout but was suffering from massive attrition across all seniority levels, including over 25% attrition from SVP/VP- level leadership. Through bi-annual surveys and exit interviews, the #1 complaint of leadership at the VP/SVP-level focused on unclear organizational structure and hierarchy.

Aligning organization on top priorities:

  • Achieving a clear organizational structure and hierarchy remains allusive. Overall, less than a third of leaders agreed they are able to effectively share best practices or develop the next generation of leaders in Entromy’s 2018 Leadership study in partnership with the Institute for Contemporary Leadership.
  • In that study, which surveyed over 120 senior-level executives, the top three priorities across all companies centered on organizational design and aligning priorities. Top concerns of senior leaders centered on:
    1. Building effective leadership development programs
    2. Aligning the organization around a core set of priorities and capabilities
    3. Aligning all aspects of leadership to company’s vision
  • Entromy’s benchmarking study across 40+ companies uncovered similar themes: organizational structure and clear priorities are imperative for success. Within the benchmarking study, the areas that differentiated companies with high employee engagement were:


  • Clear definition of employee responsibilities
  • Clear organizational structure/reporting lines
  • Transparency of measuring progress against the company’s key objectives

Deliberately developed new strengths to thrive: Beating the new normal.

Entromy’s study revealed that highly successful organizations are focused on developing leaders, customer focus and business excellence.

  • Developing Leaders: Effective leadership development programs, apprenticeships, close leadership
  • Customer Focus: Customer experience programs
  • Business Excellence: Focus on six-sigma, value-based selling, streamlining existing processes, and proactively understanding and addressing business issues

The fastest growing organizations highlighted cultural mindsets: “highly collaborative,” “client focused,” and “entrepreneurial.”

Even within this highly fluctuating, highly dynamic new tech space, developing leaders are senior executives’ #1 priority and their #1 challenge. New leaders are also seeking clarity from strong organizational structures, clear decision-making, and authority to execute and deliver results.


  1. Start by aligning all around your top priorities. You want people focused on the same results.
  2. Clarify roles and capabilities so people know their jobs. There’s nothing wrong with ambitious individuals.
  3. Enable the passion by improving your technologiesand processes.

Those are required to stay with the pack.

  1. Then push people to be even more client/customer focused, knowing that starting there leads to superior results against your top priorities by understanding the customer journey and working to delight your customers.
  2. Encourage people’s entrepreneurial bents and divergent thinking in pursuit of ever-stronger business excellence. This is a combination of innovation to produce better products or services faster and executing all business activities with a high degree of quality. Winning requires both/and, not either or.
  3. Develop highly collaborativeleaders to inspire and enable teams over individuals.