Every business wants to grow.
Not every one is ready to.
So what makes us fit for growth? Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at the different levels of growth ‘unfitness’ an organization or business can be in.
Here are the possibilities, very quickly. You could be at the bottom of the barrel, where your strategy is helter-skelter, you are scrimping on costs in the wrong areas, and expenses are largely reactionary. A slightly better position to be in, is where you have a general sense of what’s going on, but everything’s pretty much ‘off focus’ – ie, doesn’t carry the laser-targeted-ness that’s needed to build the numbers.
Companies better off than this are those with a well defined roadmap – but without the required wherewithal (read capabilities and execution systems) to realistically hope for growth. Above them are organizations who know what they want (a sound strategy) and even have a sound executive framework in place – but the culture that’s meant to support it all, is missing. On the top of the heap are companies who’ve figured out all those three – strategy, execution and support.
Let’s look at the Growth Fitness of your business now. This is essentially a mix of factors – and not all in your control.
It all begins with having a keen sense of your co-ordinates. That means not only knowing where you are headed, but also where you’re coming from. In other words, the big purpose that’s driving you forward every morning. That’s what you stand for. That’s who you are. That’s who your customers like saying “Hello!” to.
In case you feel that you mean many things to many people, it’s time to shorten that list and prioritize. Once you’ve got this down, go about designing every detail of your business presence – from the voice to the mission to the ethos – around it. Finally, build the strategy roadmap that gets you to your purpose in minimum time and damage. This includes everything from identifying revenue streams to putting in place the right capability suites (the winning brew of knowledge, processes, tools, skills and organization) that can, together, fetch you the competitive edge you deserve.
Next comes the fun part : Optimization. Fun, because there’s no one way to do it – meaning it could really be just a game – as much as it can be a task for highly seasoned specialists. From your finance flows to your systems to your product design to your teams & workflows to your choice of partners and vendors – nothing should escape the scanner at this stage.
Start with an end in mind, take hard decisions, have a healthy disrespect for legacy systems (yes, that means taking the sacred cows on – head first), think outside your comfort zones, make sure there’s enough accountability across rank and file, ensure quick wins are registered (and celebrated), track progress the way you want to (not how KPI textbooks want you to), assign good people at decision-crossroads and be adamantly consistent – so that you can bespoke-craft a lean format that will withstand storms, keep bottom-lines in check and get the best out of your teams.
Finally, the superculture that will nurture the superstructure you have created. Culture here goes well beyond the human aspect, into the essence and ethos around which you have constructed your vital systems. If it isn’t working, reorganize brutally. Re-boot and rewire your business to create more sensible frameworks, collaborative networks and spans of control teams empowered to take frontline decisions and nimble response structures.
Most importantly, implement change universally and democratically, not in a lopsided or unilateral manner. The big goal must be to embed adequate support systems across the organization that will hold it up when the chips are down. And power it forward when the winds are favourable.
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.
That’s a pretty good level of Growth Fitness to achieve.
DKODING GROWTH FITNESS
Just like there’s gym, yoga and dieting for us, a business, too, has more than one route to ‘growth fitness’. Do the basics right, dare to take hard measures and celebrate the power of thinking that’s free and collaborative. Before long, you’ll be fit to grow.