As a leader, you must take deliberate steps for growth every day. This growth can begin with yourself and spread to your team and your organization. Growth means you and your organization are evolving, learning, and pivoting so that you can successfully navigate new and unknown contexts. This series of articles titled "Growth Blueprint" explores the key tactics to foster growth. This article focuses on 6 key tactics you can implement to drive growth in your organization.
While organizations define growth in financial terms such as increasing shareholder value and top-line and bottom-line growth, driving growth is much more complex and involved than just managing the company finances. Top-line growth refers to sales and revenue generation, whereas bottom-line growth refers to net income growth after costs and expenses. Research by Deloitte reveals that whether an organization focuses on top-line or bottom-line growth, or both, it first must detect all opportunities for growth and then discern which opportunities to pursue, allocate the right resources, and take action. (1) The research also reveals that to achieve growth, winning organizations focus on aligning growth initiatives and KPIs, empowering talent, enabling technologies, leveraging insights, and facilitating processes. Similarly, research conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) reveals that leaders who successfully drive growth in their organizations despite constantly changing and unpredictable external environments implement similar winning tactics. (2)
Next, we will explore 6 winning tactics to drive growth, which include centering on customers, empowering people, enabling technologies, cultivating innovation, facilitating agility, and mitigating risk.
Organizations that center their vision, mission, and processes around the customer perform better and grow further. Growth organizations know their customers in detail, proactively anticipate their needs, and swiftly deliver to them goods and services. Engaging with and listening to the customer needs and wants and actively collecting and analyzing data through quantitative and qualitative feedback are foundational approaches to centering on the customer. Organizations that continuously strive to engage, delight, and retain their customers also do better in terms of growth. Organizations that deploy human-centered design are more adept and efficient in developing products and services that meet and exceed customer needs and wants. A key metric to gauge whether your organization is centered on customers is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Using the Net Promoter Score, you can measure how happy your customers are based on whether they say they would recommend your product, service, or organization to friends and colleagues. The NPS is calculated by subtracting the detractors (all the 0–6 ratings) from the promoters (9–10) and multiplying by 100. While NPS benchmarks vary by industry, generally, scores between 30–50% are good, between 50–70% are great, and over 70% are exceptional.
Organizations that invest in their employee experience (EX) and align their DEI&B strategy fostering diversity, engagement, and belonging have achieved stronger growth. Inspiring and rallying employees around the organizational vision and mission and empowering them to own how the organization designs and delivers products and services to operationalize that vision and mission while centering on the customer is a proven winning tactic. When leaders empower employees and give them "top cover" and encouragement to innovate and explore new ways of doing things, to experiment, iterate, and embrace failure, the employees feel more engaged and heard by the organization, and more invested in collaborating to drive growth.
Leaders and organizations that stay abreast of technologies and enable the organization to continuously explore, adopt, and adapt tech trends achieve stronger growth. For example, organizations in any industry must familiarize themselves with key digital trends, including zero-trust cybersecurity, anything-as-a-service (XaaS), adaptive Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing platforms, and the metaverse, among others. Complementing digital technologies are data analytics, data visualization, and data storytelling, which are critical to any organization seeking to grow because they provide insights into customer needs and wants and can inform organizational strategy and performance planning toward growth.
To foster an innovative ecosystem in your organization, you will need to mimic an ecosystem in nature, which consists of a community of living organisms that interact and grow together. Innovation ecosystems generally have three elements: (1) the people, (2) the environment/context, and (3) the symbiotic interactions between elements 1 and 2. To operationalize innovation, you will need to structure an innovation portfolio by diversifying risk, plotting several innovation initiatives, lines of business, and time horizons. Additionally, you will need to establish the appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure innovation so that you can use the data insights to further pivot and optimize your journey for growth.
Organizations that facilitate agile processes increase their rate of successfully transforming their organization by 30%. Facilitating agility within your organization includes starting with agile training for yourself, then training your team, and together scaling agile for the organization, including HR, IT, and other divisions that are not typically considered pivotal in growth operations. Changing the organizational culture from the traditional waterfall processes to agile by applying agile concepts to processes, data, and technologies around the organization is foundational to organizational growth.
Organizations that understand and define their risk appetite for good risk as well as have the right mechanisms and controls in place to mitigate bad risk have demonstrated better growth. To successfully mitigate risk, organizations must be deliberate about training their employees to actively identify, prioritize, assess, and mitigate risk, as well as setting up the controls, mechanisms, and alerts to pinpoint risks and help avoid or reduce their impact. There are many risk categories, including risks centering on people, processes, data, cyber, technology, organizational reputation, finance, legal, and compliance.
While organizational growth is usually expressed in financial terms such as shareholder value, to achieve such growth, organizations and leaders must consider concurrently implementing 6 key tried-and-tested tactics: centering on customers, empowering people, enabling technologies, cultivating innovation, facilitating agility, and mitigating risk. Leaders and teams that successfully implemented these tactics have been able to drive enduring growth for their organizations.
(1) Get set, grow: But are you ready?
(2) The EY 7 Drivers of Growth
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