Many businesses have the potential to grow, yet remain short of tapping that potential. They are in growing economies and industries and they also have the right ingredients to grow but something does not allow them to grow. Sounds familiar! Well that’s the story of many a business, especially those waiting to get into a different orbit in their journey.
A few days back I heard India’s finance minister saying that India has the potential to grow at 9%+. However, the story in the past 6 years has been dismal. Why? That made me think. I could also relate with some of my clients’ growth stories, which were written on the back of interventions we designed together. Based on my experience and introspection, I bring here four essential ways in which the hidden growth potential can be tapped.
1. Creating a new vision and setting new ambitions
It’s very important to set growth milestones and also important to communicate the intentions to all the organizational stakeholders. When businesses are small, the CEO is often focused on a rather limited personal goal of certain ‘level’ of earnings. The goal is personal, un-shared and un-institutionalized. Many a time, the past dictates the future ambitions, which when coupled with complacency at the top and their disconnect with the outer dynamics, limits the ability to grow. The organization is an instrument in the hand of one or few people, who pursue the limited personal goals. Many a time, the hunger for growth is lacking and the potential to grow is wasted.
It is important for the owner/ promoter CEO to understand that the organization is the extension of his or her mental and physical existence and any limitation in the organization is nothing but a reflection of the personal limitations.
It’s important to set growth targets, beyond the limited personal ambitions, in line with what is possible with the organizational strengths. It’s like giving the organization a bigger canvass to play out its rather under utilized and hidden strengths. It is also very important to communicate the growth targets and involve more people in the dream. How that dream is created and how is each person’s dream integrated with it are important aspects of this process.
2. Creating the structural mechanisms to implement the vision
It is one thing to dream and it is another thing to concretize the dream into reality. One needs mechanisms, not only to set new targets but also involve others, set interim and short term targets, define roles and responsibilities and commit organizational resources. It may require the owner/ promoter CEO to ‘let go’ of certain powers of decision making. Many a time that’s easier said than done.
The biggest challenge I have seen in such organizations is the CEO’s expectation of change in others, without realizing that the biggest change has to happen within him or her.
Examples of such structural mechanism include- strategic leadership team, empowered groups, operational teams, weekly huddles, quarterly planning meet, annual strategy session etc.
3. Creating the infrastructure
In one of my client organizations, we realized that there is a need for a bigger meeting room for putting into action the structural mechanism of ‘Wednesday’ weekly meetings of the BU heads. All the important changes were expected to emanate from these weekly meetings. In the absence of an adequate physical infrastructure, it was very difficult to conduct these weekly meetings. Similarly, we created quarterly employee interactions, both one to one and in groups, which served as the platform to sharing company goals as well as hearing their voices. It served as an intellectual (and even an emotional) infrastructure.
Hence, physical, intellectual and emotional infrastructure is a must
4. Conducting reviews
Without regular reviews and measurement of key business metrics and appropriate course corrections, the first three may soon lose their steam. Along with the new goal definition, mechanisms and infrastructures, a strong culture of performance and clear accountability is required.
I have seen in my client organizations that a combination of these four activities have really created a business traction, which over a period of time can take the organizations into a new growth orbit.