I recently co-hosted a webinar with Michael Eckhardt, Managing Director of Chasm Institute, a firm that helps companies implement best practices in strategic market development. The topic was the twin challenges of growth.
Michael explained that companies face the first challenge of “Crossing the Chasm,” i.e., finding market traction beyond visionaries and early adopters. Those who are successful with this will then encounter the second challenge.
This second challenge is the irony of growth: The very success that companies achieve in gaining market traction also plants the seeds of their own potential failure. The infrastructure – operating systems, organizational foundation – and leadership behavior that worked as a start-up isn’t up to keeping pace with a rapidly growing top line and the ever-growing number of employees in the company.
It’s not to say that this is the result of bad management or bad managers….the problems have a tendency to sneak up. Teams in growing companies are, naturally, focused on how to keep growing. Then all of a sudden the problems become serious enough to put the brakes on any further growth - and, worse, begin to wear down the very organizational foundation. The companies have hit a wall.
What they need is a Growth Leap.
Just as companies are successfully Crossing the Chasm, they also need to make the Growth Leap (my section of the webinar and focus of my client work). From my experience, when companies hit 50-60 employees (not a magic number; symptoms could appear earlier – or even later - on), the unmistakable warning signs that a Growth Leap is required begin to emerge.
Knowledge is power, and management teams that are on the lookout for warning signs of practices and structures that can’t keep up with their growth have an advantage over competitors. These are some warning signs to watch for:
The warning signs represent symptoms of underlying root causes that must be addressed to make any Growth Leap possible:
The first step toward tackling your Growth Leap challenge is to build a game plan...one that prioritizes and sequences the key actions needed, with milestones, accountabilities and resources. It also likely means taking an unvarnished look at the bottlenecks - even at the founder/CEO level – that are holding the company back in order to take it forward to sustainable, next-level success.
Are you detecting Growth Leap warning signs in your organization? Schedule a chat with Andrew to get some clarity, test your ideas and share concerns. And ask about our free Growth Leap Assessment.
One of my favorite business quotes is from an old B-school professor of mine: “Strategy is the art of foreseeing the inevitable and hastening its occurrence.” It’s a paraphrase of a quote on the art of statesmanship by the legendary French diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand.
Strategy is sexy stuff. Deep thinking, insightful analytics and creativity required.
When I interviewed MBAs looking to join my former consulting firm, the majority said that what they really wanted to do was strategy consulting. What they meant was, they wanted to the front end of strategy: the competitive and market analysis, the customer segmentation, the C-suite and Board discussion of options and the finalization of a bold recommendation.