GROWTH In the Digital Era
Any company that has made it past the start-up stage is optimised for efficiency rather than strategic agility. In many parts of the organisation, and the leaders’ thinking, a sense of maturity kicks in at some stage after the thrill of the start-up fades, and a head-down bum-up approach to achieving progress sets in. These companies only occasionally, if ever, see the opportunities for big strategic moves. Even then, they are unable to pull themselves together fast enough to seize the opportunity. All the while, nimbler competitors steal their lunch and prove whats possible.
In addition to this, the old ways of setting and implementing strategies are failing us. We can’t keep up with the pace of change, let alone get ahead of it. The hierarchical structures and legacy models that we have trusted for so long to run and improve our missions are no longer up to the task of winning in this faster moving world.
However, I do acknowledge that the growing pressure to stay ahead of the competition and ahead of technology, as well as deliver this years results can be overwhelming - even paralysing.
What to do…
1. Do you distinguish between Operational Effectiveness & Strategic Positioning? A large part of the problem of stalled and sluggish growth is about failing to distinguish between operational effectiveness (OE) as strategy. Simply improving on all fronts is a decision only for slightly improved results - not the radical transformation available in todays economies. This is because OE means performing ‘similar’ activities ‘better’ than your competitors do. Strategic Positioning means performing ‘different’ activities from rivals’ or performing similar activities in ‘different ways’. This distinction can make a tremendous difference. Lastly - Can you state your current strategy simply? And, is it driving sustainable growth in revenue and gross margin?
2. Do you have an answer for ‘scale’? You can't build something really big just on charisma, passion or funds alone. At some point the scale is just too great; you can't reach that many people. If you want something to really grow over time, you've got to build mechanisms that can touch more people, at important moments, every day. What you get in the end is more reach, more power, the ability to affect more people. It's a leverage game - make sure you’re playing!
3. Don’t just be trendy about digital. You have to understand and value how digital has changed consumer expectations. That’s the critical factor to leverage. Many leaders are content with having digital technology, phrases and infrastructure like shiny baubles through their organisation. Instead, the real work is in finding ways to use these new digital opportunities and advances to exceed the consumer expectations and deliver on your value proposition in more compelling, and remarkable ways.