In every organization, resources are carefully allotted toward reaching business targets. Growth initiatives have to be seen to either yield a return that is at least break-even or, ideally, greater than where the resources have already been allocated. Projected results have to show that actualizing growth makes good business sense to get the needed resources.
Your goal is to present the case for growth with a tangible vision and solid ROI (Return On Investment). You want to make sure that there’s long-term and short term benefits as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) in there. You want to ask for help from leadership and senior management to frame it in terms of goals and to get buy-in for the idea as well.
Accordingly, the more imminent the benefits of the growth initiative in producing positive results, the more likely funds will be allocated toward that initiative. So if the innovation will produce results significant enough, it might be possible to secure additional funding, such as through investors or other sources. However, that means the growth initiative must be described in terms of business benefits.
Understanding how growth investments in the past have been received by and impacted your company can be a helpful indicator of what’s going to happen with current growth proposals. All companies founded by an entrepreneur or a group of entrepreneurs who understand risk balance and trying something new have been through the growth analysis experience, but most managers have not. Managers are different from entrepreneurs. Either way, you have to “sell” the growth. That can be especially challenging if the growth idea initiates bottom-up, meaning frontline staff see the opportunity and need to promote it up the corporate ladder. Conversely, if frontline staff doesn’t buy into the growth opportunity, it’s difficult to get adoption and, often, they have the most impact in implementing the change(s). You can see that it’s important to share the growth process and projections throughout your entire organization.
The good news is that, even if not all managers are naturally inclined to break the status quo and grow, they’re usually aligned on initiatives that provide positive growth for the business. And when growth is an outcome, it’s something that’s going to get supportive attention.
You can also look at what’s going to happen if you don’t grow. There is an opportunity cost in terms of the competition taking the lead, becoming obsolete when you’re not looking and missing opportunities. So is the cost of taking on growth less than the cost of not pursuing growth? That is a significant question, especially if you consider what would happen if your competitor did it and your organization did not. You could just wait and see what happens if the growth trajectory isn’t adopted by someone else. That is a little riskier strategy (because you could end up behind the field if it IS adopted) but it is one way to test the concept.
The growth initiative has to have a way to transition the work needed to support it in a fast track kind of way or it might be not so viable by the time people get to it. So, once you put a growth initiative in play, you might find that unexpected challenges or opportunities or environmental issues or feedback from the market or whatever things might come up that need to be accommodated. So just know that disruption of the status quo is a byproduct of growth. Current workflows and operations may need to shift to accommodate this new project or initiative which can meet resistance when people are uncomfortable with change. So you have to be prepared to help your colleagues understand the benefits — paint the potential wins, the quick wins, the overall results in a powerful, vibrant, and meaningful way. And when this is all done well, you are going to potentially have significant change throughout the organization as that growth project becomes assimilated and is the “new normal.”
Growth Requires Business Strategy
It is vital to integrate projected growth initiatives with business strategy. Ideas without strategy remain a vision, just as strategy without action remains a concept.
The competition, emerging technologies, new customer conversations, changes in the business environment, etc.; these are all factors that will give you potentially unexpected things to think about when it comes to growth initiatives. Strategy takes the possibilities, evaluates them and then discerns what could have the greatest impact — positive or negative — on your business so you can take informed action for growth.
Strategy also turns industry disruption and challenges into growth opportunities. Daniel Burrus would call this being an “anticipatory organization.” Consider medical clinics located inside retail and grocery stores, 3D printing and manufacturing, lockboxes for pizza pickup, the proptech market where home sellers sell to an iBuyer, which is speeding up the process and sending real estate platforms scrambling, the coronavirus causing more remote working, which requires technology. Virtually anything that happens creates an ending that is needed to have a new beginning in some way. Strategy takes that change and ensures it has the shortest path to grow into profit or positive impact.
Business growth is always good, right? Wrong.
Business growth that can be delivered efficiently and effectively for customer happiness and, ideally, a profit is always good. Make the business case for your growth initiative for credibility, buy-in, and gaining the resources needed to fund the initiative.
If you want to have a chat about making the case for growth in your organization, reach out! I, or any other XTIVIAN, would be happy to be a sounding board and resource.