Customers are spoiled by options, markets are dynamically competitive and opportunities are many yet fleeting. That’s the new paradigm of business environment.
The biggest challenge with ensuring growth in such paradigm is the inertia posed by the older paradigm, a paradigm of few and big customer segments, relatively long strategic cycles and the habit forming grooves in which the organization gets into.
Many enterprises find themselves stuck in this older paradigm and despite intent (and need), they find difficult to continue with their growth trajectory. The new paradigm is fraught with operational and environmental risks and demands agility and efficiency. Many business organizations may not be ready for the new paradigm. tails In short they may not be growth ready.
Ask yourself, if as a business leader, you are finding it increasingly difficult to grow. The shareholders are asking for more but you are really at your wit’s end as to where that more shall come from. I call it lack of growth readiness, a situation in which the organization is not adequately prepared for capturing the potential growth. How to grow at a desired pace becomes a moot question.
To become growth ready, organizations need to create five interrelated aspects-
new leadership orientation, new strategic bases, new structures of implementation, renewed culture and use of new technologies. Each aspect represents a dimension of readiness.
Strategies have a shelf life and beyond a point in time they need to be revisited at the most basic levels.
Key questions business leaders must introspect upon- Are you exploiting one strategic position, milking existing strategic assets or hovering around one strategic orientation? Has it started giving diminishing returns? Are you exploring enough? Are you building multiple options, which can be redeemed as the future demands or will you be caught with limited options with the danger of becoming irrelevant?
In the current times, exploration has to be given adequate focus. It should result into multiple options, which can be exploited as the demands arise. As the time to market pressures are immense, one cannot build strategic options very fast. Hence a range of options must be consciously created, which can be redeemed at the opportune time.
Leadership may be embedded in old mind sets, their competencies may be more relevant for older times and new competencies may be required to be learnt.
Ponder over the following questions- How accommodating are the leaders of new ideas and contrarian thoughts? How do they manage diversity and conflict? How much do they promote use of technology? Do they centralize powers in few hands or decentralize it throughout the system? How systems oriented are they? Are they risk averse or willing to move out of their comfort zone? What aspects of leadership may be hindering changes required to grow?
The real change for growth starts at the top and leaders need to be adequately prepared for the same.
Structures are like the transmission drive, which helps implement the strategies. Without the right structures, strategy remains merely as a nicely created document. Structures include the organization structure, the SOPs, formal groups, special purpose committees, forums etc.
Ask yourself- Are there structures fitting the new strategic orientations? Do the structures balance and integrate exploitation with exploration? Do they balance between stability and change? Are they adequate or lacking? Are they more than required? Have the structures become rigid? What aspects of the structures irrelevant and dysfunctional?
Structures need to given adequate focus for implementing the strategies identified.
Culture is like deep structures as norms, beliefs and attitude. Culture impacts the organizational members to behave in a certain fashion. For growth to become real, the organization needs to behave in a certain way, with an attitude of an achiever. Culture can really become the slush in which the growth aspirations get stuck and do not move any further.
The business leaders must introspect over the following- How much does the culture values performance, in reality not just in rhetoric? Are people held accountable or are there ‘Holy Cows’ for whom performance does not matter? Is there power struggle among coteries sapping vital energies?How do feel feel- motivated or defensive? Is there a fair and transparent PMS? Are people driven and their KRAs linked with the organizational goals? Do people act on facts and are they information savvy?
Cultural readiness to grow is a complementary aspect to make the formal structures work. Just designing formal structures may not be enough (sometimes even counter productive).
Technology is an enabler and it can help across the other four readiness aspects. It can help leadership manage better with faster decision making and transparent view into the organizational functioning, develop new strategic options built around new customer value and new operational models to serve them, create the necessary structures through process automation, collaborative, social and new digital technologies and support newer dimensions of culture. The power of technology and especially new digital technologies has been rather under leveraged.
The key questions the leadership must ponder over include- What is the attitude of leadership with respect to technology usage (a leadership issue)? How does technology figure in the business strategy (a strategy issue)? What role of technology is promoted in the organization (a cultural issue)? Is there a governance structure for IT in place and what is it (a structural aspect)? How functional is the base IT platform, how much are the new technologies leveraged, are the 6 foundational pillars of technology developed adequately (a technology platform issue)?
An organization requires commensurate readiness on all the five aspects to be really growth ready. Ideally, the CEO must deliberate upon the organization’s growth readiness with the c-level executives. Each organization will find its current situation unique and hence the forward path chosen too shall be unique.
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