Are You Asking Yourself, “Why Can’t We Grow Our Business?”

The first in a series of four articles on key factors in business growth.

We often take a direct approach and ask business teams, “Why can’t you grow?” Their answers tend to fall into three categories:

Leadership Mindset

  • Leadership engagement in growth initiatives
  • Assignment of resources
  • Organizational alignment with growth initiatives

Organizational Skillset

  • Knowledge of the business’s growth framework
  • Skills in implementing a growth project
  • Effective team building
  • Adeptness in using growth project tools

Operational Toolset

  • Tools to make fact-based decisions about
    • Market opportunities
    • Value propositions
    • Building a business case for their project, and
    • Designing a successful product launch.

In this article, we’ll share some real-world examples of how these three sets affect business growth.

Growth Takes All Three Sets

A key finding from our analysis is that businesses cannot separate the three drivers of growth—Leadership Mindset, Organizational Skillset, and Operational Toolset. They go together, must be fostered and developed together, and should be implemented with equal and shared intensity!

When Things Go Wrong

So, what happens when businesses separate or forget to connect these three drivers of growth?

1. The Frustrated Business Leader

In one interview, one frustrated business leader declared, “Our people have all gone through new product development training and we’re still not generating successful new launches.” When asked about his role, we discovered that his priority was today’s business, not ownership of the growth process. He attended most gate reviews, but he didn’t challenge his team to validate their positions. When the team asked for Voice of the Customer (VOC) quantitative research funding, they were told that they would have to settle for interviews they had to do themselves.

2. Lack of a Shared Understanding

While engaged in a market validation workshop, a team’s description of their qualitative learnings fell short of expectations. When we reviewed their approach, we learned that they did not have a shared understanding of how their growth process worked, so they were unable express their concept well. The team had skipped steps in doing the market validation, so their understanding of the market was limited. Unfortunately, executives did not demand the team meet a well-defined set of expectations.

3. Wrong Information

A team in a technology company was proud to have used the budget their management approved to hire a market research vendor. The vendor designed an approach with questions that worked for the analysis software they always used. However, the results didn’t provide any information that could be used to reduce the risk of being wrong about the nature of market demand. After thousands of dollars spent, the team didn’t have the right information to make fact-based decisions. Unfortunately, we hear this a lot—the market research results were not useful. Advanced techniques to elicit new insights more closely related to how customers make decisions are rarely used. Additionally, survey questions that were either not properly structured or not well-linked to the research objectives, design, and analysis methods. Leadership focused more on the research’s completion than its validity.

Be A Success Story!

Success stories clearly demonstrate the importance of an integrated mindset/skill set/toolset view of new business development. In every case, we found explicit links between how leaders lead, how the organization did their work, and how they used quality tools. Detached leadership always results in poor performance. Engaged leadership is necessary but is insufficient by itself. Enabling the development of organizational skillsets and operational toolsets is the cornerstone of leadership.

Leadership Mindset, Organizational Skillset, and Operational Toolset all must function well and together to make business growth happen.

In the following posts in this series, we’ll examine each set’s impact on growth and provide some effective solutions. In our final post, we’ll demonstrate how all these sets work together to provide an integrated path to success.

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