when it comes to organizational design, size matters. it sets the table for how your organization acts—what kind of culture you have—and what type of work you conduct. you have to decide what you’re after: more frequent, yet smaller meals; or bigger meals spread further apart.

to be successful, a small organization needs to specialize in something—one thing in particular above all else—and perform really fantastic work when it comes to that one thing. you can’t spread your resources too thin in a small organization because you just don’t have that much to distribute. the resources you do have must be very smart, very talented, and very motivated around your core mission. because of this, you should be paying those people with the talent and ambition to force success on your organization better than most others would pay. they are your bread and butter and you cannot succeed without them, and the name of the game is success. the work itself is often smaller and more transactional than enduring. yet due to the unique output from your highly talented resources, however, it’s possible to charge more for your products and services.

on the other hand, large organizations need work that is both larger in scope and has a longer duration. you have many resources that need to be paid and stability is paramount—”job security or job satisfaction” as they say. the nature of your large scale work is generally far less innovative or ‘start-up’ minded and more focused on sustainment and improvement which requires a different breed of employee. your resources are butt-in-seat personnel paid to do a specific task for some specified (or unspecified) amount of time. these personnel demand far less in terms of compensation because they are interchangeable parts—more trained in breadth of knowledge rather than in depth—which can easily be replaced.

every organization needs to make this decision, large or small? the worst part is when organizations find themselves caught in the middle: the culture is too small making it impossible to compete in the market with larger, cheaper organizations, but the organization is too large to maintain that smaller culture and still make a profit.

so which one will it be? large or small?