Too Many Leaders Underestimate Barriers to Rapid Growth
Most companies want to rapidly grow revenues and profits. High growth helps set the stage to dominate market segments, to win big clients, to make strategic investments and to provide opportunities to attract and retain top talent. High growth, however, also creates additional pressures on the business and the people to consistently deliver at a high quality at high speed. These pressures are the barriers to rapid growth.
As one CEO put it, “We are trying to build and fly the airplane at the same time, and we’re not even sure where we are going to land the darn plane or who will be aboard when we do.”
Rapid Growth Can Take Many Forms
You may be expanding into new markets, acquiring or merging with another business, developing new products or simply growing the work force to meet increasing demand. Regardless of the source, smart leaders pay attention to the impact rapid growth can have on your people, processes and culture.
1. People Barriers to Rapid Growth
While the specific challenges rapid growth companies face differ from company to company, almost all rapid growth organizations face acute people pressures. It is not easy to attract, develop, engage and retain the right people in the right roles fast enough to meet high demand. Smart leaders get ahead of the curve and create talent management plans that align with the growth plans for the business by answering some fundamental questions early on:
Talent accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Make sure you prepare your employees for the changes ahead; otherwise talent constraints may be a drag on growth plans.
2. Structure and Process Barriers
You will need, too, to examine your existing organizational structures and processes. High growth plans can be stymied by ineffective and unaligned structures and processes more appropriate for smaller companies. Smart leaders identify the critical few processes that matter most and ensure that they are aligned with their growth strategy by answering a few fundamental questions:
3. Cultural Barriers
Our organizational alignment research found that culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Culture and strategy are inextricably linked. Successful leaders align their culture (how work gets done) to their high growth strategies by ensuring total agreement and understanding of how work gets done across several key cultural dimensions related to growth:
Companies that agree upon how to approach these seven cultural dimensions of growth build strong corporate cultures to support and accelerate growth.
The Bottom Line
Leaders who blithely ignore the stresses that the barriers to rapid growth can place on their strategy do so at their peril. It is the purposefully aligned organizations who can foresee the barriers to rapid growth and adjust accordingly that will win in the end. Are your people, processes, systems and cultural norms ready for rapid growth?
To learn more about whether your strategy is set up to overcome barriers to rapid growth, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Growth Strategy
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