Business growth creates complexity. Complexity kills growth. This is the paradox of growth which, over the long run, affects the growth ambitions of 90% of companies.
In this post I’ll review new research on the ways to identify and resolve growth challenges.
Growth challenges come from within the business
85% of executives identified that their company’s growth is being halted by internal challenges.
It’s not competitors, market changes, tax regimes, or changes in demand that retard growth. Whilst these elements really exist as external challenges, it’s the opposite of what is causing the growth problems. Research has found that It’s the things within the four walls of your business that are slowing it down. Culture, processes, people, strategy, and technology are all to blame. If these issues are left unchecked it can cause businesses to become overloaded, stall out, or fade into insignificance.
The focus on internal growth blockers is an important finding. This is because it’s very easy to identify companies that have shrunk due to external influences. Kodak was blind sided by digital cameras. The growth of the UK supermarket industry is being eroded by the arrival of cheap, leaner continental alternatives such as Aldi.
However these external factors are not the cause of the problem – it’s internal.
Internal factors meant that Kodak or the UK supermarkets were unable to respond to challengers or changes in customer demand. In fact, if the businesses had been effectively innovating perhaps a challenger may never have appeared (or been quickly acquired).
Questions to ask about external and internal growth blockers:
- What external factors do we blame for slowing growth? How do these relate to internal failures?
- How is our business structured for growth?
- Across culture, people, processes, and technology where are there growth blockers?
- How do we define business efficiency? Flexibility, dependability, quality, cost control, speed or innovation?
- Where is there complexity in business operation? How do we simplify?
- How are decisions made? Is this a straightforward process?
Resolving growth blockers with the founder’s mentality
Developing the founder’s mentaility is the solution according to new research by Chris Zook.
A founder seeks to cut out complexity to grow a business. Zook states that there are three elements to the founder’s mentality:
- Clear insurgent mission that inspires and creates focus
- Front-line obsession, caring about the details in the customer experience
- Owner’s mindset – speed, anti-bureacracy, and a willingness to take personal responsibility
Returning to this mindset will help business leaders reignite growth in their teams.
Certainly as a consultant I try to bring this thinking into my engagements. I’m clear on what needs to be achieved, obsess over the customer’s experience and do everything to get results quickly with minimal overhead. I think to some people this may appear impatient but for me it’s crucial to delivering value to a client organisation.