Often, in order to move forward, one must break long-held patterns and beliefs. Growth, and how we perceive that a business grows, is one such belief/pattern area.
Back when I was the Transformation leader for DuPont Nylon, Charlie Krone presented our team four premises about growth, which were integrated into our “Generation” project (which led to our going from 20% global market share back to 27% market share in the mid 90’s). The principles have held up well over time.
1. The pursuit of growth and evolution is essential to the perpetuation of the state of existence that a value adding process can provide its stakeholder constituencies. For a school the value adding process might be curriculum and teaching methods with the outcome metric based on development of a student. Pursuit is about the ongoing dynamic change to continually push the edge of collective vision. An underlying concept is also that a value-adding process must be steady-state to evolve, or in the negative – an organization can go into turmoil as complexities of growth work are added.
2. Growth should be a vehicle for differentiating the product offering of each value adding process, implying that each value adding process should be distinctively able to support particular market spaces or segments. This is tough work. All too often the commodity effect settles into a organization pattern to “maintain” and “be cheap enough” and “just good enough”. Bring forth a new “distinctive” and organizing to be “differentiating” requires critical thinking about evolving both value adding processes and the people that execute those processes. Distinctive is about bringing forth an offering value that is differentiable from current and future competitive offerings and that will be of a higher order in that marketplace. Often the work of growth is about redefining the market space (aka segment) and driving for deep customer understanding in order to reposition a current offering or pursue a new offering.
3. When thinking about growth an important critical thinking shift is “better” over “bigger”. Healthy margin growth is a function of clearly being better driving BOTH margin and growth.
How? Perhaps through focusing on:
- a more perfect product (perfecting ahead of the competition vs waiting for the absolute perfect product);
- a product that integrates more effectively with the value adding processes of the customer and industry;
- a product the BEST matches the discriminating judgments applied by the decision makers and stakeholders in the market space you are targeting;
- a product that establishes the best harmony with what the stakeholders are seeking to accomplish.
Each of the four points is an imaginary growth level to cross… the more perfect offering; that better integrates with the customer’s value adding process; that creates distinction within the marketplace; and wins superior approval and acceptance from all stakeholders.
Think about how Apple responded when there were stakeholder concerns about the quality of life issues from society stakeholders regarding their contract Chinese labor practices. The reason that Apple could respond with credibility is the the other three levels were “crossed”.
4. Creative thinking about growth involves creating a vision of an offering and/or its value adding process that has greater potential. Then execute that vision by translating it back into virtues and qualities that need to be brought forth; implications to changes in your value adding processes and those of your customers; and implications in “being” and changes in “being”. Most of this reverse engineering is the hard work – making the possibility real – and requires a different mental energy from the day-to-day organization. “Being” and changes in “being” relate to the spirit and level of energy from your stakeholders – and while concepts of branding and marketing can enable the perception escalation in that regard – the “core” of offering, value adding process, and most importantly – the people executing to deliver that new offering and process need to be choreographed
All this is leading to expand my thinking from customer experience as a singular pathway to growth to thinking more broadly in the context of stakeholder engagement.
Ready to grow?
PS. Charlie – we miss you!