• Jim Canfield

Hub-and-Spoke Syndrome


Bike hub and spoke

The best businesses are ones that are able to move away from hub-and-spoke models and create autonomous organizations.


What is the Hub-and-Spoke Syndrome?


In hundreds of meetings with company leaders—chief executives, presidents, and owners—I’ve asked, “What would you like more of from your company?”


There were three predominant answers:

  • Better profits with improved margins and better cash flows

  • Easier, more reliable execution of strategic objectives

  • More time with family and friends and for personal travel

Now, take a look at the facts:

  • According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, the average small business owner works more than fifty hours per week, and almost 60 percent report working six days a week. And more than 20 percent work seven days a week.

  • About 85 percent of business owners surveyed reported that they had to be on-site daily because they were the primary person responsible for core functions like production or service, managing the day-to-day business, and managing the financial aspects of the business.


What could be driving this? It’s the old hub-and-spoke syndrome, where the chief executive (maybe even the whole senior team) is the hub, and the spokes must be connected to get anything done. If you want to create an autonomous company, it must be able to succeed

and grow without you at the center of all activities. Your employees should be more than spokes that connect to you.


Embrace Growth


Business leaders are often reluctant to give up this central position because they like to serve their customers personally. It feels good to solve problems. Happy customers shower you with praise, you feel needed, and you know your customers are getting the best care from your very own hands. After all, you know your business better than anybody, and training others to do the job takes a lot of time and can cost a lot of money.


But here’s the truth of the matter: the more your customers need you and want you personally, the harder it is for you to focus on what you should be doing—growing your business.


Building an autonomous company means the organization and its processes must be the center hub, rather than a person.

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