The Strategic Business Blog

5 Signs You Are The Hub of a Bicycle Wheel Organizational Structure

Posted by Terry McGill

Bicycle Wheel Organizational StructureHow is organizational structure of your business working for you? In most cases, when a business owner starts their business, they don’t set out to create one organizational structure or another. They just go into business and start working hard every day.

We often speak about the importance of being Strategic by Design, as opposed to the typical small business evolution. Most small businesses tend to evolve over a long period of time without a clear and defined goal. They have not been strategically designed to produce a certain goal or purpose.

quoteMost of the time business evolution is detrimental to the business owner


Most of that business evolution is detrimental to the business owner and/or owners of that underlying business. Without a clear and defined goal and the capability to measure, monitor and track all the different components, the results will never be what the business owner or owners originally hoped for.

In a business model that has just evolved over a period of time, the organizational structure tends to look like a bicycle wheel with the business owner or owners at the center acting as the hub of the wheel.

This model will not produce the best results. We all know what happens when you try and remove the hub in the center of a bicycle wheel – the spokes dangle and the wheel won’t work.

5 Signs You Are The Hub of a Bicycle Wheel Organizational Structure:

  1. You have an attitude that you are the only one who can get anything accomplished. You don’t really have confidence in anyone else.
  2. You are too busy doing all the work to have any time to work on your business.
  3. Everyone knows that if they don’t do something, you will make sure it gets done and cover their mistakes.
  4. You get multiple phone calls every day from everyone in the company and every department. No one can make a decision without your direct input.
  5. You can never take time away because who in the world will do all the work. If you do take some time away, you worry sick every minute that taking the time was a mistake and you can’t do that again.

If any of these sound familiar, you may be center of the bicycle wheel…not a fun ride!

Most owners don’t even have a clear idea of what results they are trying to produce. They just get up every day and go to the business and work very hard, come home and do it again the next day.

If an owner leans their head out into the hallway and asks their employees:

"Why do we do things this way?

Usually, you’ll hear this answer being shouted back:

I don’t know. We have always done things this way.

When a business has evolved to whatever level they are currently operating:

  • There are no real processes, procedures or foundation in place, no standards…just more work to be done.
  • The employees don’t have defined responsibilities or an understanding of what or how they should be functioning.
  • There is no direction…just an idea that we should continue on.
  • There is no accountability anywhere in the company.

This results in the owner, unfortunately, having to live within the results every day:

  • The owner has no control over the operations
  • The owner never has any time to accomplish anything beyond troubleshooting all day long.
  • The owner can’t take any time off. (How would things get done if he were not there?)
  • The owner usually makes less than his key people. (This makes great sense doesn’t it?)

The owner or owners experience what we call an increasing Give Away Gap, which is the gap between how a business is actually operating and the owner’s ability to control how the business is operating.

The results of an evolved business model will never be what they could and should be because there’s no system to produce those results and the owner is too busy doing all the work and babysitting all day long.

The most successful companies have been Strategic by Design and have systems, process, procedures and controls in place to produce predetermined results for both, productivity and profitability.


Download the Strategic by Design Guide: Eliminate Over 80% of All Management Problems to learn more about how to stop the detrimental business evolution in your business and get out of the hub of the bicycle wheel organizational structure.

Guide: Eliminate Over 80% of All Management Problems



Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs.

Topics: Strategic by Design, Business Evolution, Organizational Structure