Steady Improvements Fuel Successful Growth Strategies

Steady Improvements Fuel Successful Growth Strategies

by John Stewart
July 22, 2021

A successful growth strategy usually isn’t about dramatic, high-risk moves that address an organization’s problems overnight. Instead, it involves steady and incremental changes that are implemented as a phased approach. 

While there may be situations that call for drastic measures, it’s rare that growth is being impeded by just one problem or that a single strategic move will be enough to erase unfavorable market developments, operational challenges or other issues. In most cases, a series of comparatively subtle changes, backed by a well-thought-out implementation plan, are the key to improving your company’s growth trajectory. 

Start by Understanding the Issues

An important early step in developing and implementing a successful growth strategy is conducting an assessment to understand where your organization is today and the necessary steps to improve its performance. 

A variety of tools are available — including benchmarking, roadmapping, balanced scorecards, and others— to help your leadership, board, outside advisors and other stakeholders understand the company’s strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities and rising challenges. While the most effective tool will vary according to the specific situation, each framework is designed to provide insights to help management identify areas of improvement and the appropriate actions to take in response. 

Armed with these insights, business leaders can begin to formulate or refine a growth strategy and a comprehensive plan to implement it.

Planning the Implementation

Developing an implementation plan is often overlooked but is critical to the success of any growth strategy. It’s one thing for a company’s management to say “do this,” but if functional leaders don’t understand the strategy and the required action items, implementation will be difficult. In addition to communicating the “what” of a strategy, management needs to convey the “how” and the “why” to improve the odds of the strategy’s success.

The implementation plan needs to be practical and within your organization’s operational capabilities. As action items are evaluated, it’s important to understand whether the organization can carry out those steps easily, or whether you will need to enhance your processes or systems to do so.

Similarly, it is important not to develop a growth strategy within organizational silos. Because any one change is likely to have a ripple effect throughout the organization, it is important for functional leaderships to participate in the development of a strategy as well as the associated implementation plan.

For instance, it doesn’t make sense to work to increase sales if the operations function is not able to fill the orders, the growth leads to sudden staffing shortages or the finance and accounting team isn’t prepared to handle the increased workload.

Phased Approach

It’s also important to implement your growth strategy in well-defined phases — such as 30, 60 and 90 days — to observe the results and to identify any challenges that may not have been apparent when the strategy was developed. Each phase should be viewed as a proof-of-value test in which the company can evaluate its effects before moving on to a new phase. 

For example, a negative effect likely indicates the strategy or implementation plan should be adjusted in some way. In contrast, if the phase is showing positive results, the changes should be accelerated and potentially spread to other functions.

Data Challenges

Other common obstacles to the implementation of successful growth strategies include data-related issues such as identifying the right performance indicators and evaluating technology and data sources. 

Management and functional leaders need to agree on the metrics that support not only the growth strategy, but also your organization’s performance going forward. And if current processes and tools can’t provide that information or require manual reformatting or pulling data from multiple systems, it may be prudent to consider updating processes with robotic process automation (RPA) or replacing that technology with integrated, cloud-based solutions that can provide real-time data and apply analytics to help you derive meaningful insights.

Avoid Chasing Trends

Another potential issue with developing and implementing a growth strategy is pursuing a strategic framework or software tool without sufficient research and consideration. It’s not uncommon for a strategy or technology to be implemented based on casual factors such as a CEO reading a business magazine article or an investor passing along a well-intentioned idea.

The strategy or technology may be appropriate for the organization, but careful consideration must be devoted to understanding the potential implications as well as the organization’s ability to implement the strategy or solution effectively.

An Ongoing Effort

It’s also helpful for management and the board to understand that your strategy should be an ongoing effort, with careful evaluation of performance results, a constant look at emerging market trends and opportunities, and a mindset of continuous growth.

Focusing on today and tomorrow shouldn’t be a binary decision, but rather a consistent process in which understanding short-term operating wins and losses is balanced with looking at the marketplace and customer needs and understanding how the organization may have to evolve in the medium and long term.

By evaluating performance results, as well as marketplace and technology changes, you can develop, implement and maintain a growth strategy that serves your company and its stakeholders effectively.

To learn more about implementing your successful growth strategy, visit our Strategy & Transformation page or connect with our team.

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