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Achieve growth in challenging times

Frontrunners are losing ground without even being aware of it. Disrupters are being disrupted. Entire sectors are about to go out of business. And yet, even in these challenging times, achieving growth is possible.

By continuing to do the right things you will end up outperforming your competitors (and much more). So, what are the right things? We believe the seven building blocks, based on research amongst over 500 top executives (by The Institute for Real Growth) are a good start. We think they will give you some excellent insights:

The building blocks are divided into three parts: what, how and why. After each block we have added signs (or “pains” as many might call them) that we see in the field, which indicate when you’re not performing well within this building block.

How many do you recognise?

Source: The Institute for Real Growth


Abundant markets
Overperformers don’t look at the standard definition of market share and think that they are on top of the world. They stay hungry and take a more abundant view. Overperformers don’t just look at their slice of the pie. They look beyond their pie, make big bets and stay the course. It helps to redefine your market and take the view that you are just a small player.

Sign: Year on year you outperform your direct competitors, but you’re still not comfortable about the future of your organisation.

Multiple business models
If there’s a willingness to embrace multiple business models, chances are you will overperform. Easier said than done, because others in your company might not be comfortable with this. According to Simone van Neerven: the main differentiator for successful innovation is supportive leaders. There are three foundations for innovation: trust, willingness to experiment and openness to new ideas.

→ Signs: Your company has had the same business model since it was founded. Also: as a leader you’re always the one that has to come up with ideas for innovation, rather than your colleagues.

Evolving experiences
Growth is all about increasing customer satisfaction. To quote Jeff Bezos: “Customers are always beautifully dissatisfied’. The thing is: when customers get amazing service from other companies (doesn’t even need to be your direct competition), they are going to expect that from your service as well. You will need to up your game. Your focus should be on creating a frictionless, seamless experience.

→ Sign: Your product people are using customer satisfaction as a KPI and have been measuring it in exactly the same way for years.


Open culture
Underperformers are focussed on procedures, structure and quality. Overperformers are focussed on innovation, change and entrepreneurship (empowerment). The myth of “Culture is in our DNA and can’t be changed” is totally wrong! One of the best actions to achieve this is by creating diverse teams. The results from the research show that a diverse decision-making team is more likely to overperform than competitors without one.

→ Sign: You want to recruit a new type of talent, but they don’t want to work for you.

Anticipative organization
Overperformers are adaptable. They are agile and organised around Scrum (the video talks about micro-battles, but that is “fugazi” for Scrum). As a leader you should empower your people to make the important decisions. To achieve this you have to be good at breaking internal barriers and making internal connections at all levels within the organization.

→ Sign: Our organisation has adopted Agile methods, but you’re still the one that has to call the shots.

Whole brain thinking
Overperformers are able to unlock data. Not by collecting more data, but by combining their data with human insights. At ONBRDNG we call this data-informed. You have to find and develop whole brained talents who understand this. Also you have to build whole brained (or multidisciplinary) teams.

→ Sign: You have multiple dashboards with different “truths” and your colleagues are having discussions about who’s right.


Human growth
Underperformers are here for financial growth. Overperformers focus on the people they serve. This can be customers, colleagues, or anyone else. Humanizing growth is the glue of all growth and should never be underestimated.

→ Sign: You offer great compensation but your employee retention costs are going through the roof.

That’s it. These are the seven building blocks. Obviously this isn’t all you should be concerned about. But it’s a good start :-). We can imagine that you’re getting one or more of these signs from within your organisation. If so, you risk losing your position as a frontrunner. Now you know the underlying cause of it, the best of luck fixing them.

Not sure how? Schedule a call, let’s talk. We’d like to help.

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