12 POWERPLAYS YOU GOTTA PRESS TO GET YOUR GROWTH TICKING.
BACK FROM THE BRINK :
RE-IGNITING GROWTH BY STAYING A STEP AHEAD OF DOOMSDAY.
Every business hits a low. Or, at any rate, a plateau. The trick to emerging stronger is to act as if nothing’s happened. Keeping a straight face – especially when hell’s breaking loose left, right and centre – can be hard work, of course. Unless you have gone through the paces, and practised the ‘Fire Drill’, if you will, a million times in advance – precisely for this one moment, this one eventuality.
And that means re-designing systems top down (trim calories, shed non-core assets, divest underperforming units, streamline and simplify operations, re-look budget allocations, liberate teams to refocus on core tasks or re-direct them to frontline activities and (re)kindle a culture of entrepreneurship).
Creating islands of innovation (instead of pan organizational programs) by launching minutely targeted ‘micro projects’ around vital process points. And firing up your very own ‘Growth Zone’ – which is all about finding your hunger for what you do best, all over again.
BARRIERS TO GROWTH:
EXORCISING THE GHOST WITHIN THE MACHINE.
No matter what your business or endeavour, the road to growth can be paved with potholes and speed-breakers. And while we’re all familiar with the usual suspects – unsustainable business models, ineffective strategies, insufficient cash-flows, misaligned teams and insipid customer engagement – it’s the ghost within the four walls that one really needs to stay alert to. In other words, distortions.
Distortion of speed – a result of bureaucratic silo-fication and layering – can be a slothful monster sucking vital performance-hours off your system.
Distortion of information – a corollary of the previous – prevents the free flow of data that is critical for making correct and timely decisions. Finally, Distortion of reality happens when the rush of growth makes one blind to on-ground urgencies like sales pipeline, market trends, conversion rates, competition study and emerging opportunities.
Nothing, of course, that can top the curse of the ego: Beat this hobgoblin and tackling the rest can be a cinch.
THE GROWTH DECEPTION:
GENERATING ACTIVITY VS PRODUCING OUTCOMES.
The illusion of growth is not as hard to achieve as growth itself. The cash registers may be ringing, the dimensions of your business assets may be scaling, you may even be clocking great speed.
But it could all be a bad case of chimera: A self-deceiving cycle of ‘Treadmill Make-believe’ where the huffing and puffing generates plenty of activity, but not enough purposeful outcomes. So how do you move the needle again? First things first – remember that the illusion of growth is natural, and usually a result of basics gone awry. Some steps that can help, therefore, are: Re-examining assumptions. Befriending data. Overhauling processes.
Connecting old dots in new ways. De-clogging systems off bottlenecks. Rekindling your mojo for what you do. Do the basics right, think fresh, take new risks – and there’s a fair chance you’ll be hitting reality road before long. Engineering fresh value for your customers, to boot. And get growing – this time, for real.
BREAKING THROUGH TOGETHER:
HACKING GROWTH BY HARNESSING THE ‘HIVE MIND’.
Modern marketing cannot be left to modern marketers. Solely, that is. There are simply too many variables, details and perspectives involved. It’s a ‘Hive Mind’ thing – a joint responsibility of everyone: Product, Design, Coding, Sales, Customer Experience.
That’s half the story behind the concept of Growth Hacking which, TLDR, is just a quicker way of reaching one’s goals – by going miserly with resources like money, time and talent-hours.
The other half of the Growth Hacking story is all about fluid thinking and creative manoeuvrings : Questioning convention, borrowing from past experiences, cross-linking domain learnings, following the changing consumer’s behaviour patterns, optimizing with a vengeance, becoming a data champion, remaining open to alternatives, colouring outside the lines and encouraging a culture of creativity. Bring the two halves together, and hack your way to happy growth.
THE ULTIMATE GROWTH STRATEGY:
IF IT DOESN’T EXIST, SOMETHING BETTER DOES.
It is common belief that you need a killer strategy to kill the growth game. Battle hardened entrepreneurs, dyed-in-the-wood marketers and members of the academia have a different story to tell, though.
They’ll tell you that each business is unique, and needs to find its own perfect destiny. They’ll quickly add that the ultimate strategy is probably simply a cosmic confluence: Being in the right spot at the right time with the right people doing the right things. If that sounds more philosophy than plan, here’s a more actionable roadmap. One.
Create a winning cocktail of ideas, teams, technology and processes without playing favourites (ie, if you are a process person, don’t give ideas, technology and talent the short shrift : Treat them at par). Two. Be willing to let go of good ideas, so that you can be ready for great ones when they strike (this also means tracking trends to spot the next great opportunity idea). Three. Pilot test your products and experiences maniacally before sending them out into the market.
Combine the three, and you’ll arrive at something more powerful than the ultimate growth strategy. The ultimate growth opportunity. Isn’t that what success is really about?
SET FOR GROWTH?
NOT WITHOUT THE GROWTH MINDSET.
A company can have a great team, flawless processes and a fat purse, but it may still not grow. That’s because the first thing you need to get on that growth horse, is the mind for it : A growth mindset, in other words.
All action stems from desire, and growth is no different. So how do you get yourself one? It’s a trial-and-error process, really, of IN-MIXING and UN-FIXING. MIX-IN in the ‘Can do-Will do’ spirit across your business.
And the best way to do this is to fire up your teams by linking them to a bigger goal. Empowering them to punch above their weight. And rewarding them on milestones – both big and small.
One will also have to UNFIX (un-knot) unclear priorities, excessive pressure, poor ergonomics, technology lacunae, restrictive policies, un-inspiring cultures, indifferent management, and, well, anything in between. When you IN-MIX and UN-FIX, you set in motion a Growth Mindset Engine that runs on auto-pilot, yielding incremental returns over time.
LEISURELY OR ON-STEROIDS:
FIGURING OUT THE RIGHT SPEED OF GROWTH.
Everybody wants to grow fast. The problem is, we don’t always control the speed of business. From consumer behaviour to strategy to teamwork to cash-flows to stakeholders to the economy, speed is a function of several factors.
Having said that, we should certainly have a ‘Speed Plan’ – where how fast or slow we go will be the result of several critical variables. Weigh both carefully. Go too fast and you run into operational, team, control, focus and cash issues. Grow too slow, and there’ll be obsolescence, inertia and, again, cash flow issues to negotiate.
While a 20 percent+ (per annum) rate of growth is considered outstanding and a 7-8 percent (per annum) is definitely higher than average, you’ll do good to convince yourself that fast and slow is a relative thing. Here’s the 411 you should really be focussing on: Strategize in detail. Take decisions wisely.
Plan for capital. Take charge of your dream. Once you’ve got those out of the way, settle for a pace that makes the most sense to you.
UNLEASH THE REAL POWER OF STRATEGY:
BY TURNING IT SEXY.
Strategy doesn’t need to be stodgy. There was a time when strategists – Alexander, Chanakya, Julius Caeser – were the poster boys of society. Let’s make strategy sexy again.
Because that’s when it is at its most powerful. Shake that tie off, roll up your sleeves and get some action. Strategy happens in real-time, so live in the moment and learn to have a little fun. Go lean by focussing on what matters. Develop a nose for what your customers are upto – it’ll add fuel to your drive for disruption.
Reverse monitor trends by syncing with the younger generation. Invite leaders over to speak. Trade off-sites with adventure trips to innovation hubs. Exchange boring meetings with ferris wheel sessions (you get the drift). Play 20 questions to figure our best ways forward. Keep a note pad handy to record inspiration and edit plans on the fly. Dare to look beyond the data. Sound out your ideas with your family at dinner.
Trust your hunch. Bottomline: Shift the focus from strategy, to strategic. Because that’s what moves the bottomline. And that’s sexy.
THE ULTIMATE GROWTH CHECK LIST :
GET THEM TICKING, TO GET YOUR BUSINESS TICKING.
Some of the greatest teams out there – be it Facebook, Google or Apple – didn’t quite start with a plan. Nevertheless, vital learnings of predecessors can help a business adjust its sails every now and then.
Here’s a broad list of templates and perspectives one will do good to start ticking – to get one’s business rolling right: Take stock of the past. Align activities to purpose. Close gaps across the value chain. Don’t insist on inflexible laws.
Nevertheless, do keep a firm tab on performance. Have specific KPI’s. Don’t scrimp on talent. Don’t underestimate the power of research. Stay up to speed with trends. Distribute TO-DO lists. Get a CRM. Automate. Get your Dashboards ticking. Value relationships and partnerships. Keep a firm check on compliances. Always track-review-refine. And yes, promote yourself powerfully (and unabashedly).
Getting these bang-on will help you define the factors essential to your organization’s success in certain terms. And insert vital miles between you and potential pitfalls.
THE G TEAM:
BUILDING THE TALENT MIX TRAINED TO TRIGGER GROWTH.
The missions a Growth Team are expected to achieve are smoothening of conflict, fluidity of thought & action, and perceived value multiplication for customers. Anybody who aspires to be on a Growth Team must be deeply in love with the product, first – because it’s the product that the modern machinations of growth revolves around.
It is critical to keep in mind that a Growth Team is essentially an outcome of a Growth Culture – one that features collaboration, creativity and mutual respect.
The ideal Growth Team should feature traits like risk appetite, creative thinking, curiosity, analytical reasoning, agility, versatility, hustle-ability, a love for testing, plain robust common sense and customer empathy. Some of the roles one can start with, are data analyst, growth hacker, head of marketing, content marketer, social media and community manager, project manager and full stack developer.
Remember that building the right mix of talent is essentially a creative exercise, and can be enriching, fun, and a reward in its own right – do don’t get overwhelmed. As long as there are people who live the product, breathe the customer and have a single minded focus on betterment (with one eye firmly on the numbers), you’ve got the team you need to move the needle.
And get growing.
IN THE PINK OR ON THE RED:
FIGURING OUT YOUR GROWTH FITNESS.
Every business wants to grow. No every one is ready to. Being growth ready is about a solid strategy that’s wrapped around your big business purpose. About optimizing relentlessly to create the right culture frameworks in place. And building the right culture to sustain it.
The three stages above will call for both inspiration and sacrifices. Be ready to prioritize your big purpose above all else, so that your strategy carries clarity.
Be brutal as you optimize and re-design frameworks, so that it doesn’t fail you when you need it most. Be intuitive as you design a culture that’s agile and empathetic at once. Being growth fit isn’t about what you do, but how well you do it. Be bold while creating your wish-list, don’t spend time where it’s a waste and always treat the glass as half full. It’ll get you creating value consistently, outperforming competitors incorrigibly and making fans smile sustainably.
And that’s what robust Growth Fitness levels are all about.
GET GROWING OR PROCRASTINATE FOR A LITTLE LONGER?
SOLVIG THE GROWTH DILEMMA.
A company needs to grow, there’s no question about it (sometimes, even if it is to remain at the same spot). The only question is, when. Identifying that golden moment can be one of the biggest challenges for an organization. It’s called the ‘growth dilemma’ It’s not easy to figure out the right moment to rachet things up. Not least because it is a function of multiple contingencies and eventualities.
The first thing to ensure is that your business is ‘fulfilled’ at the current state and stage – in other words, you’re running a finely optimized machine. The next thing to consider is whether your current model – which is working like a well oiled machine at the current time – will be equally effective when implemented on a bigger scale (the trick is not to spread yourself too thin). Finally, you will have to figure out your ‘product-market fitness’.
Are you confident your current customers will continue to love you in the oncoming future? There are no easy answers to the ‘growth moment’ dilemma. If the rest of the pieces of the puzzle feel in place, turn to your gut. If scaling up feels right, it’s probably the right thing to do.