Igniting Business Growth– Shift from Fear to Fearless: Sharpen Drivers, Break Barriers, Release Brakes, Overcome Plateau…

Business growth: Impatience is an outcome of restlessness. Restlessness is the outcome of an incubated idea. Once the idea virus gets in, it leads to restlessness and action… The impatience of one person gets enlarged and, next, the entire associated workforce gets reverberating and the work gets rolling faster than it would have otherwise– Infectious impatience. ~Mukesh Ambani

Most often the barriers to business growth are not the fault of; markets, or customers, or technology… but, the business itself: Business growth always comes from within. If the organization is not ready to grow, innovate, increase market share, enter new markets, increase profitability… then, the business is destined to fail.

According to Denise Corcoran, recession breeds fear in the business world. Challenge for all executives and entrepreneurs are to go against ‘herd mentality’ and drive your own growth reality. There are realities, constraints, and uncertainties that we must engage just to stay in the game. However, we have more control over our business future than we realize. You are bigger and better than any problem, no matter how looming it seems.

The key is where you put your focus… and to what extent you are willing to step up your game, i.e., wiser and bolder. Step up your inner game, and cultivating a fearless mindset for growth:

  • Play To Win vs. Play Not To Lose.
  • Cultivate Innovative Strategies and Actions.
  • Enforce Fierce Accountability.
  • Be Like a Rock; Flow Like a River.

In the article Four Growth Drivers You Can’t Afford to Overlook by Bill Thomas writes: It’s estimated that up to 90% of business strategies fail to deliver their intended value. Those failures (whether partial or total shortfalls) are often due to one of two reasons.

First, strategy did not sufficiently focus on customers, markets, and create a unique source of value for those markets.

Second, despite having a compelling customer-centric strategy, the organization was not capable of executing that strategy. The first reason is external and relates to market drivers, while the second is internal and focus on organizational growth drivers.

Companies who consistently design and execute successful growth plans apply the same rigor, discipline, and follow-through for both sets of drivers. The most successful companies go a step further by identifying and leveraging the linkages between the drivers. The current economy presents leaders with an ideal opportunity to reposition not only their business, but their organization for growth.

Specifically, there are four areas of opportunity that are prime candidates for critical review and improvement. Experience and data show that companies that address all four areas will outperform those who don’t. By analyzing the external and internal growth drivers for each area, and identifying key questions or issues for each area, as it relates to growth, then this process will provide a  foundation for optimizing each area in your organization.

While the term ‘company’ is used– these principles apply to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. The four areas are:

  • Strategic Rigor, Alignment and Execution: Rigorous planning process and strategy… an organization that’s aligned and accountable for executing that strategy.
  • Operational Efficiency: Organization that is structured; top-to-bottom and end-to-end for efficiency, agility and creating customer value.
  • Segmentation and Differentiation: Progressive and proven approach to segmenting and leveraging the various sources of customer value and organizational talent.
  • Changing and Leveraging Culture: Management guidance and tools to drive and enable the attraction, development, engagement, and retention of that value and talent.

In the article Can’t Move Forward? Probably Your Parking Brake Is On by Rick Holbrook writes: In the book ‘The Success Principles’ the author, Jack Canfield, provides techniques to help people move forward on their personal development and improvement. Many are proactive techniques, which he likens to pushing down on a car’s gas pedal to go forward. He also points out, however, that it’s possible to move forward easily just by releasing the brake.

His basic message is to let go of the negative thoughts, perceptions… that we have accumulated over a life time; in what may be call legacy issues. According to Canfield, first release the brake; after all it’s difficult to drive forward with the parking brake on… Using this analogy, companies have legacy issues too and just like with people moving forward effectively always means releasing the brake and dealing with the legacy issues, first.

In big companies legacy issues might be; recruiting talent, organization flexibility, management skills… In his study of small companies (less than 500 employees) James Fischer found that there were very subtle but real legacy issues that put the brake on business growth. He labeled them ‘hidden agents’, because they are; bigger than when they first appear, hard to diagnose, partially submerged…

He found ‘hidden agents’ affect; leadership effectiveness and  business  performance. Many business leaders waste energy by first pressing down on the gas pedal (not releasing the brake) with expensive new initiatives, which then struggle because of the effect of ‘hidden agents’ at work. To move forward you must first release the brake by uncovering the hidden agents, then press down on the gas pedal with new growth initiatives….

In a study by ‘Ernst & Young’ they show that high performing businesses take charge of their own destiny. These businesses have a laser-sharp focus on executing against the four drivers of competitive success: Customer reach, Operational agility, Cost competitive, Stakeholder confidence. Then, each business strikes the right balance with each driver in relation to the other, both– strategic and tactical.

The study says that high performing companies are laser-focus on their customers, such that it runs like a thread through the entire organization. They determine the strategy– where to sell, what to sell, and how to sell. Also, these companies are alert to the impact of economic turmoil; local and global, on their markets and customers: They act quick to mitigate customer issues, and re-establish focus and re-engage relationships.

They are highly disciplined to identify, understand, and respond to new patterns of customer demand, and they are driven by superior execution, and support of customer expectations. High performers have a much greater awareness of the importance of access to markets using; multiple distribution channels, partnerships, joint ventures… Risk is an important issue and rarely underestimated … high performers have reduced their appetite for risk, and have adopted a more cautions approach; due primarily to the current economic environment…

This Ernst & Young survey confirmed earlier surveys that found that; speed and flexibility are the most important enablers, for companies, to respond to market opportunities and threats, quickly: Quick response helps companies to react to customer needs faster, hence to gain or hold market share, or  if necessary; to just back off… speed of action is another attribute of high performers…

A combination of; quick response, speed of action, and flexibility are essential for business to cope with positive or negative changes in markets, competition… or federal regulation.  However, the most important attribute of top performing companies is their ability to create a harmonious company culture that strongly connects employees and management.

It nurtures high-quality relationships in the work place, which is a key factor for effective engagement, growth, success… high performance companies invest in people, encourage innovation, and find inventive solutions to attract, retain, support, and motivate smart and highly talented people…

Adversity can be a great motivator. The goal is to ignite a virtuous cycle of value-added growth, productivity, profitability, job creation… If government policy makers remove barriers that act as a disincentive to invest, as well as, create the conditions in which business can thrive, the private sector can provide the skills and capital to deliver the innovation the world needs.

According to an article by ‘Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Charles Roxburgh’; public-private business partnerships can offer significant growth opportunities for both the private and public sectors… they suggest: Bring private capital to public works; Close the skills gap; Build public–private partnerships…

A public–private partnership (PPP) is a public and private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies. Public-private partnerships can cover everything from toll roads to sports stadiums… The idea is to combine government money or influence with business know-how to produce better, more cost-effective products, services, and other outcomes.

However some experts say; let’s not get carried away with the prospect of public-private partnerships solving the planet’s problems. Getting commercial leaders and doers and thinkers to help with government mandates is one thing; inviting commercial enterprises to feed at the government trough is another. As a principle, public-private collaboration makes good sense. But the extent of that collaboration needs to be watched closely… 

According to Hillary Rodham Clinton; The problems we face today will not be solved by governments alone. It will be in partnerships– partnerships with philanthropy, with global business, partnerships with civil society…

Governments need their own productivity revolution… For example, McKinsey’s research shows that the public sector has substantial opportunities to increase its efficiency and effectiveness by being more open-minded and leveraging private involvement in delivery of public services. The potential economic gains are compelling. If governments can increase the public sector’s productivity by 1.5% annually (in line with what private industry has achieved over the past three decades), they could generate benefits worth $1 trillion a year.

While need for increased public-sector productivity is urgent at all levels of government, the case for public–private cooperation may be easiest to make at city level, where most future global growth will occur. A majority of successful cities are already notable for a high degree of collaboration between the private and public sectors. But more must be done, especially to tackle the economic problems that blight many large cities, globally.

Some estimates show that public–private partnerships could account for as much as 40% of operations and maintenance budgets in large cities across the world. With a few notable exceptions, business leaders have been slow to raise these issues.

When executives make their voices heard, they too often issue narrow calls for lower taxes rather than advance broader ideas for creating a dynamic pro-growth agenda. It is time for the private sector to take the lead in making the case for driving growth though public-private partnerships for innovation and investment…

Growing healthy, vibrant, and competitive businesses are the key to prosperity for all citizens… engaging in public-private partnership development to create additional jobs, improve public institutions is a sustainable and inclusive growth opportunity, as well…